BATON ROUGE – It’s an Olympic dream that began in a church parking lot.
McMain High School’s Aleia Hobbs is now a senior at LSU and one of the fastest women in America.
Hobbs’ first race was when she was seven years old when she and her sibling ran into a four-legged challenger outside of her church.
“Everybody went back in the van, but the first thing I thought about was run,” Hobbs said. “So I started running and as I was running behind the buildings, I know the dog is still behind me so, of course I was scared of dogs, so I was just running as fast as I can around the buildings until I made it inside,” she said.
She said the people inside the church noticed how fast she was running and after she was approached about running track. At first, she said no, but after a few days she was convinced to check out a track practice. It all went up from there.
While at McMain, Hobbs became a 13-time state champion sprinter. She went on to LSU and as a freshman earned two All-American Honors during the outdoor track season.
After that, she suffered a few setbacks as a sophomore with leg injuries, which led to her having knee surgery in August 2015. She bounced back in 2017, earning SEC Runner of the Year Honors.
“She’s been healthy. She’s been training consistently. She’s been having some awesome performances, each one getting a little better really each week,” LSU Track & Field coach Dennis Shaver said.
Hobbs finished second in the 60-meter dash at the SEC indoor championship this past weekend. She wants to capture an indoor sprint championship at nationals.
Hobbs also wants to duplicate her success during the outdoor track season.
She is also chasing another dream when her collegiate career is complete.
“This is why I’ve been doing it. To run pro, to go to the Olympics, the whole thing like that. Once I finish, of course, I’ll go pro,” Hobbs said.
Shaver says that it is not easy to go from one level to the next and have immediate success but he has faith that Hobbs is different.
“She is certainly somebody that I know is kinda already being talked about as one of the next great American sprinters,” Shaver said.