April 25, 2012

By Magdalena Wikar, Sports Marketing Academy Intern

OXFORD, Ohio - The All-Ohio Championship meet concluded with astounding marks and times set by both Miami's men's and women's track and field teams this past weekend. A warm Friday afternoon quickly dropped into the 50s on Saturday, but the RedHawks bravely battled the cold and the women achieved an overall second place finish while the men clamed a solid third place.

Women's head coach Kelly Phillips was impressed by the performances the RedHawks carried out throughout the weekend, giving exceptional attention towards the seniors. "Seniors really did a great job," Phillips said. "(Diona) Graves winning the 100, (Rachael) Clay winning the 400, (Alexandra) Roberts finishing second in the shot, and the 4x400 setting a new school record with two seniors running great legs. (Krista) Stillson had a really consistent and solid performance in the triple jump and of course our two seniors in the pole vault really competed well."

For many of the seniors, All-Ohio was their last opportunity to leave new records and achieve personal bests on their home track. Senior thrower Adam Ruiz threw a new personal best in the hammer, but he didn't allow the thought of his last All-Ohio break his focus for the remainder of his season. "I hope to keep improving on [the hammer throw]," Ruiz said. "It was definitely bittersweet, but I try not to think of anything as my last time doing it; I'm trying to stay focused on my end of the year goals."

Senior distance runner Jillian Dickman couldn't believe it was her last race on her home track where she has trained throughout her college career, but was glad to have raced in front of her closest fans. "This past weekend was my final race on my home track," Dickman said. "Although I did not race as well as I had hoped, I enjoyed every last lap of it. It gave me chills to lace up my spikes one last time in front of my best friends and family."

Senior sprinter Rachael Clay feels her fellow RedHawks put their best foot forward and remained strong throughout the competition. "It was great that we were able to run it at home this year," Clay said. "Although we didn't win the meet, we put up a good fight, considering the circumstances, and ran a very solid meet overall. I couldn't have asked for anything more."

Despite the circumstances, Clay completed her last home meet with a new school record in the 4x400 meter relay. "We exceeded expectations in the 4x4," Clay said. "None of us expected to go out there and break the school record. We knew we were going to run great and we met our goal doing that en route to breaking the record which is awesome. It was such an exciting race and a great way to end the meet with a school record."

Senior jumper Krista Stillson achieved a new personal best in the triple jump, as well, but is not settled on her current mark. "I ended up jumping the best I have all season but I still want to jump better and get a new PR before I leave Miami," Stillson said. "After each weekend I feel more and more confident going into the MAC meet. Both personally and as a team I think a lot of improvements have been made since the beginning of the season and I am excited to see what else is in store for us."

With both Miami track and field teams finishing this past weekend with personal bests, optimism engulfed the teams as they are looking forward to the following weeks leading up to the Mid-American Conference Championship. Senior decathlete Jordan Goffena believes the team is ready to take on the other MAC schools with confidence. "Men's track and field looked at this meet as a preview of what's to come at the MAC Championship," said Goffena. "We are ready to move up in the MAC standings and, after this weekend, we've shown that we're ready for the challenge."

"I hope as a team we keep improving and we peak at the MAC meet and get after it," Ruiz added.

Coach Phillips is ready for the MAC, as well, and believes the graduating seniors have demonstrated great leadership towards the younger classmen. Coach feels the seniors have left everything on the track and have proven to be superb role models for the rest of the team. "This year's seniors leave a lot for the younger athletes to look up to, in all events there is a senior that has not only stepped it up in competition but are great leaders in the classroom and in the community," Coach Phillips said. "The seniors will definitely be missed."

With the season coming to a close, the seniors leave advice for the younger classmen that will carry out the program's legacy of passion, hard work, and dedication:

Senior thrower Adam Ruiz: "Enjoy it. Enjoy every minute of it. When it's almost done you will look back and reflect on what you accomplished and you definitely do not want to look back disappointed. Work your butt off and have goals. Achieve those goals. And the whole time make sure you are enjoying yourself."

Senior distance runner Jilly Dickman: "To all of my younger gals, I would definitely say to learn to love the excitement, anticipation and fear of race day. Once it is over, it will all just become memories. Live in the emotions and take every opportunity to leave it all on the track because at the end of the day, there is always someone who will be able to carry you home."

Senior decathlete Jordan Goffena: "You've got to do the little things and you have to mentally train yourself to know that you can attain any goal you set out for. Moreover, don't be afraid to set the bar high. If you set the bar high you will truly challenge yourself as an athlete and, by doing so, will become a better person in the end."

Senior jumper Krista Stillson: "Take advantage of the time you have at Miami because it goes by too fast. When times get stressful on and off the track, it is important to remember you are not alone and you have a whole team of best friends who are right there with you. Have fun, work hard and don't miss out on any opportunities because you will regret it in the future!"

Senior sprinter Rachael Clay: "You only have so many opportunities to run, so make sure that each time you step on the track you put EVERYTHING into it. No regrets!"