Bryan Savic for the Arizona Daily Star
It was a glorious February day and the noisy crowd at Washington’s Dempsey Indoor Facility was roaring with excitement. The stage was set for the Pac-12 women’s 60-meter hurdles.
The hurdlers came out of their starting blocks and it soon became apparent that they were heading for a close finish.
Arizona hurdler Talie Bonds was neck and neck with USC’s Jasmine Jones. Although she lost by a millisecond, all eyes were on the Arizona entrant.
Bonds had, after all, just set a school record with a time of 8.16 seconds.
“She had trained extremely well,” said UA coach Fred Harvey. “She has the talent to run faster than that.”
Bonds was a bit surprised. “It was kind of a surprise, but not because I knew I was going to have a down time,” Bonds said.
“I haven’t taken part in this event for three years.”
Bonds’ happiness was short-lived. While she broke the Wildcats indoor record, she failed to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships. The top 16 times advanced; Bonds was 21st.
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“It’s the hardest NCAA championship to achieve,” Harvey said. “It’s not even close.”
Bonds will have another shot at qualifying for the outdoor championships this spring. The Wildcats will host the Desert Heat Classic next Saturday before heading to the Pac-12 Outdoor Championships, which begin May 14 in Eugene, Oregon. The NCAA Outdoor Championships begin May 25 in Fayetteville, Arkansas; the best will return to Eugene for the NCAA Outdoor Championship Finals, which begins June 8.
“This outdoor season, it looks like a possibility,” Bonds said. “I’ve had good races all year, so hopefully I can keep going and get there.”
Since moving from Utah State to Arizona as a junior in 2019, Bonds has been the model of enduring success.
For every competition, winning is the expectation and nothing less.
“That’s why I’ve done so well because I hold myself to a high standard and that has definitely helped me over the years,” Bonds said. “I will do everything in my power to win.”
If that sounds like a coach’s dream, well, it is. Harvey doesn’t have to force his Bonds to follow his instructions. She does it all alone.
During an indoor meet last season, Harvey informed Bonds that she would be competing in the high jump and not the hurdles.
“It was so cute, because she brought her running shoes anyway, just in case I changed my mind,” Harvey said with a laugh. “She didn’t like it, but she wasn’t upset because she understood the mission of what we’re trying to accomplish.”
The right timing says a lot about the competitiveness of bonds.
“She’s really a competitor and a player,” said UA volunteer high jump coach Bob Myers. “It was amazing to watch her.”
Harvey said he was delighted when he landed Bonds in the transfer portal three years ago. He had coached his older sister Tiana from 14 to 2019 and always looked up to his parents, Kurt and Natalie.
“Mom and dad are literally at every competition,” Harvey said. “Being in the business for as long as I have, they are the absolute best parents for allowing their young sons and daughters to grow and for them to be coached.”
And Bonds has been trained in many sports. She did volleyball, flag football and track and field for Centennial High School in Las Vegas before leaving for Utah State. She took off on the track as a senior, winning the Nevada State title in the 100 meters and 300 meters hurdles. Shen was named the 2017 Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year.
“I was a late bloomer,” Bonds said. She was still learning to control her body as getting older allowed her to “understand what I need to do in training (and) how I need to take care of my body off the track”.
Bonds thanks Natalie Bonds for helping her break through.
“My senior year, my mom and I really focused,” Bonds said. “We were going out on the track at night, no lights on (and) she was holding the flashlight and timing me.”
Bonds has never been one to shy away from strong competition. She always relishes the opportunity to participate in difficult rounds.
“I actually like making people run faster than me more than winning a race because it pushes me to be better,” Bonds said. “I don’t think anyone should be afraid to compete against people who are better than them because that’s how they level up and build your confidence.
In every competition, won or lost, Bonds makes sure his presence is felt and leaves a lasting impression on his opponents.
“I want my opponents to know that I’m a threat and I don’t like to lose,” Bonds said. She admits to surprising a lot of people, “especially over hurdles”.
“I don’t think I look that intimidating,” Bonds said with a laugh.
Bonds has a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a minor in crime, law and society. She has been fascinated by crime since she was a child and aspires to one day work in the field of criminal justice.
“I always wanted to be an FBI agent,” Bonds said. Bonds is convinced she has the composition to be an ideal candidate for the FBI Training Academy in Quantico, Virginia.
“I have so much physical experience that I don’t think that would be a problem for me,” Bonds said. “I’ve always been strong mentally. I am very good under pressure.
Bonds wants to be remembered as someone who leads by example with his work ethic, love of sport and ability to have fun.
“I never want people to think, ‘Oh, she ran this (time) because she’s naturally gifted.’ It just isn’t,” Bonds said. “I’ve worked for every single thing I’ve ever won.”