40 in 40 - Becky Horn
Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Title IX, wmubroncos.com takes a look at 40 key moments/females in the history of women's athletics at Western Michigan University. Though the selection process, an effort was made to highlight a moment and player/coach from each of our current women's sports programs, as well pay respect to our women's legacy sports. A different feature will be released each of the 40 days, July 24 through Sept. 1.
Track & Field: 2005-08
The Western Michigan women's track and field program has been highlighted several times during our 40 in 40 series but one name stands above the rest.
Becky Horn came to Western Michigan in 2004 and left in 2008 a three-time All-American, 17-time MAC title winner, a four-time MAC Championship Most Outstanding Performer honoree, 13-time MAC Track Athlete of the Week winner, a four-time Drake Relays Champion and even made it to the finals of the 800 meter run in the 2008 USA Olympic Qualifiers. Making a case for herself as possibly the best student-athlete that Western Michigan has ever produced in any sport.
Horn had a lot of fanfare from her time competing at Battle Creek Central High School. She was a part of Michigan's Dream Team, she won two state titles in the 400 meter dash and broke the state meet record as a sophomore. She was also an all-around athlete, playing point guard for BCC's girl's basketball team.
"I never saw her run in high school," said head coach Kelly Lycan. "Her high school coach kept contacting us and telling us how good she was going to be but I just never had a chance to see her run."
An injury prevented Horn from competing at the state championship her senior year of high school but Lycan got his chance to see her when BCC played a girl's basketball game at Mattawan.
"It took me two minutes to realize she was worth a full scholarship," explained Lycan. "She had a couple of steals in the first few minutes. I saw the athleticism, the desire and the hustle."
During her freshman season in 2005 she immediately paid dividends, helping the 4x400 meter relay team win a MAC title. It was the first of six 4x400 titles she would help win in her four years as a Bronco. During the outdoor season she went on to win the 400 meter dash and help the 4x400 team to a MAC title. She was helped out by Krissy Mahome, another great Bronco sprinter who was a senior during her first season.
"I could tell right away she was going to be great," said Lycan. "She wanted to be the best, she wanted to win. I can't remember a practice where she wasn't out in front leading in all of her four years."
It was her sophomore season when the 800 meter run was added to her repertoire. Lycan surprised Horn by having her run the 800 meter leg of a sprint medley relay that season. She ran her first open 800 at an indoor meet at Penn State that season. Later that season she won her first indoor individual MAC title in the 400 meter dash, and also helped the 4x400 team out to their second-straight indoor MAC title. While Horn was at Western Michigan the indoor 4x400 team won the MAC title every year.
Entering her junior season her training was switched to focus more on the 800 and add endurance. It worked.
"When we changed her training everything improved," said Lycan. "She dropped a whole second off of her best 400 time."
Horn also started competing in both the 400 and 800 at the MAC Championships, one of the toughest doubles due to the fact that the runner only has roughly 30 minutes between races. It showed for Horn, who did not win the 400 during both the indoor and outdoor seasons. She did, however, win the 800 meter run indoor and outdoor as well as the both 4x400 relays and the 4x100 relay. Horn also earned her first All-American honors after finishing in ninth place in the 800 at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Her final season Horn was just untouchable. During the indoor season she won MAC titles in the 800, 400 and as a part of the 4x400 relay team. She went on to finish fifth at the NCAA Indoor Championships, once again earning All-American honors. Outdoors she successfully defended her 800 meter run title at the Drake Relays, also helping the sprint medley team repeat as title winners. She won four MAC titles at the 2008 Outdoor MAC Championships, winning the 400 and 800 individually and helping the 4x100 and 4x400 teams to first place finishes. For the second straight season she was named the MAC Championship's Most Outstanding Performer, for both indoor and outdoor meets.
She went on to finish third at the NCAA Championships, the highest a Bronco has ever finished at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Horn wasn't done there either. She went on to make the finals at the USA Olympic Qualifiers in the 800, but missed out on a spot for the Bejing Olympics.
"Becky was willing to push herself," added Lycan. "She was willing to hurt to win a race. She was a great teammate as the relays meant a lot to her. She was fun to coach and be around."
Horn will be eligible for the Western Michigan Athletics Hall of Fame in 2018.