By Gene Renfro
Once again the Milligan College track and field program will take a contingency of athletes to the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championship.
“I think it’s about finding a balance between getting in the work load properly, but then you have to keep in mind these are 18 to 22-year-old athletes,” Milligan head coach Chris Layne said about the preparation.
This year’s edition of the championship will be May 24-26 in Marion, Indiana, at Indiana Wesleyan University.
Included in the group going to nationals is Elizabethton’s Janey Robinson for the marathon. She qualified via a one hour, 31 minute and 56 second run in the Tom King Half Marathon. Danielle Mitchell also got a bid to the event running in the same event with a school record of 1:24.52.
“She was going to be the student-assistant coach coming in to school,” Layne said about Robinson. “She wasn’t even going to run. I think that speaks volumes for what she’s done and the work she’s put in. Here she is. One of the things we try to do is identify where an athlete best fits so we can maximize their potential. The marathon for Janey was that.”
Robinson was a part of the NAIA Women’s Cross Country National qualifying team.
Also in the marathon will be senior Austin Ellis in his last collegiate event. He will look to break his school record, one of four he owns for outdoor track.
Highly decorated Gillian Giffen will also close out her Milligan campaign in the 5,000 meters.
Fitzroy Harris ran to the NAIA’s 11th-best time in the 400 with a lap time of 47.70. He also qualified for the 200, but will run the 400 next week.
“It’s a great feeling going to nationals,” the sophomore from Mandeville, Jamaica said. “It’s a relief to just focus on track, less stress and I can focus my strengths to prepare.”
Tanner Payne will look to break his school record in the hammer throw. In March he tossed the hammer 56.49 meters to obtain a ticket to the nationals. That performance has him No. 13 going into the nationals. He also has a “B” standard in the discus with a toss of 46.80 meters, ranked No. 37.
“The throws are an important part of this, Layne said. “The people that have believed in our program and coaching have developed.”