By Matt Hill
It looked for all the world that Janey Robinson’s night was going to be a wash, but then she did something different than she had been doing and success once again rained down.
On a wet and stormy night at Kermit Tipton Stadium, the former Elizabethton High School athletic standout and current Milligan College distance runner came through with a personal best in the 5K, an event she was not scheduled to run in earlier in the night.
Robinson was scheduled to run in the 10K at the end of the evening, but then several thunderstorms, one after another, hit the region and the event was canceled due to the lateness of the evening.
With Robinson’s mother and sister Kadey — a softball pitcher at Chattanooga State — in attendance, she entered the 5K and finished fifth.
More importantly, Robinson ran a 19:54 for a personal best.
“I was going to do the 10K tonight, but I did this instead,” Robinson said. “I usually do the 5K, but right now I am training for the marathon. It’s a big difference.
The marathon will be in Indiana on May 26. With the marathon being pushed to the side for the evening, she was able to give her family something to cheer about.
“This was a very good run for me,” Robinson said. “I didn’t expect to run this fast because I’ve been very tired lately. This gives me the confidence I need in finishing out the season. This is my senior year, and I definitely want to go out really well.”
Robinson was a very versatile athlete in high school, but by the end of her collegiate career had found her niche in running. Before Elizabethton had Christine Hardin, Robinson was the girl who was known for playing all the sports.
“I ran at Elizabethton my sophomore season through my senior year,” Robinson said. ‘I didn’t even know what cross country was until I went to high school. I did it because a lot of my friends did it, and I was a little hesitant to do it in college because I knew it would be a challenge. I also thought it would be a great opportunity to meet people and work hard.
“I couldn’t imagine not doing it, and it’s been a great experience these last four years while I was in college. It’s been awesome.”
Despite playing softball, basketball and other sports at Elizabethton, Robinson sort of thought she would play tennis in college. Robinson teamed up with current ETSU player Jessica Brumit to reach the state tournament in doubles in 2008, when Robinson was a senior and Brumit was a freshman.
Though Robinson did end up going the track and cross country route, she still has a soft spot for tennis.
“I loved tennis, and that was my sport in high school,” she said. “Jessica was a great doubles partner. We went to state. I thought tennis was the way I would go.
“Playing with Jessica was amazing because she was so competitive. We both at the end of the day wanted to win so bad. I think that’s what made us such a great team. She was a little better than me, but I worked so hard. Her brother, Curtis, coached me for a long time. He helped me out so much, but I miss Jessica. We were on the same page as far as sports.”
Robinson doesn’t regret making the running her current passion.
“It was a great decision,” she said. “I am so blessed that this is what I did. It’s been amazing. I wake up every day and realize what a great opportunity this is to come out here and do this.”
Robinson thanks God that she is able to share her abilities with other people.
“I’ve had to ask God to carry me through this a lot because it is challenging and I’m a team captain this year,” she said, “and it’s hard sometimes because you have a lot going on on your team and your looking out for everybody, not just yourself. I’ve relied on my faith a lot.”
Robinson is graduating with a teaching degree. Her alma mater actually has two Milligan graduates on the track and field staff, Aaron Wood and Craig Emmert.
Whether Robinson will become the third remains to be seen, but she is looking forward to being able to help others.
“Hopefully I’ll get a job as a teacher and whatever comes I will take it,” she said. “I’m actually doing my student teaching there, and I see Aaron a lot and Craig works in the same department. I would love to help them out.”
-Austin Ellis arrowly missed qualifying for the 2012 NAIA Outdoor Championships in the men’s 5K. he finished 19 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor as he finished with a time of 15:00.79. Nathan Meeuwenberg finished third with a time of 15:31.79.
-Gillian Giffen paced the women’s 5K as Milligan grabbed five of the top six spots. Giffen took the event with a time of 18:24.01, while Danielle Mitchell came in second as she recorded a new personal best mark of 18:36.94. McKenzie Patten and Robinson finished fourth and fifth, respectively with personal bests, while freshman Paxton Stephenson crossed the line in sixth.
-The Milligan women’s team of Shannon Wilson, Heather Exline, Caitlin Wood and Christine McMAhon captured the women’s distance medley relay with a time of 13:38.87. The Buffaloes finished second in the men’s DMR with a mark 10:46.85.
-In the Citizen’s Bank Citizen’s 5K, Milligan student Christopher Shaw paced the field with a time of 18:40.17. Catherine Layne and Ani Boyd paced the women competitors as they crossed the line together in 21:29.57.