The junior walked a fine line between frivolity and focus as she celebrated Christmas without losing sight of a golden opportunity to line up against an elite field of middle-distance runners in Winston-Salem at the Camel City Elite meet. Segrave made the most of that opportunity last Saturday, finishing sixth with a time of 2:07.37 that broke her own Milligan indoor 800m record by nearly three seconds.
The performance, which came against both professional and top collegiate talent, earned Segrave the NAIA National Runner of the Week Award, which was announced on Wednesday. Milligan coach Chris Layne said that Segrave has already accomplished a lot in her time at the school, but he also added that the ceiling on her talent is nowhere in sight.
“I think she is focused,” Layne said. “She is a gamer. But I think the other thing that gets me as excited as anything is that she’s still a puppy in the sport of track and field, especially as it relates to the middle distances. Week-in and week-out, she’s lining up against girls that have two or three more years of experience in the middle distance events. So that’s really exciting.”
Layne said that Segrave showed maturity and discipline by hanging behind a field that left the starting line in a blistering pace last Saturday. The conservative approach paid off as Segrave was able to reel in a couple of runners in the final 400 meters and build some confidence in the process.
“She sat back and cautiously got herself through 400 meters at a perfect pace for her and was then able to chip away at the field,” Layne said. “I think just her ability to recognize pacing has improved considerably.
“She didn’t try to bite off more than she could handle in that race, and I think she left there knowing that she can take another step.”
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In the wake of last week’s performance in Winston-Salem, the women’s track team is now ranked 19th in the NAIA Indoor Track & Field Rankings.
In addition to Segrave’s exploits, JJ Robinson also had a good showing in Winston-Salem. The sophomore qualified for the national meet with a time of 10:24.03 in the 3K, a personal best.
“She went through a little bit of a growing phase last year (as a freshman),” Layne said. Now we’re starting to see JJ do what we thought she was capable of doing.”
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While the distance runners were in Winston-Salem, a contingent made up mostly of Milligan’s younger athletes traveled to the Mountaineer Open at Appalachian State.
Freshman Tyler Mayes made a splash in the 55-meter hurdles, finishing third in the event. Layne said he envisions Mayes becoming a strong 400m hurdler down the line.
Former Happy Valley athlete Emily Holtsclaw also seems to be trending toward a productive career in the 400m hurdles. The freshman made a name for herself as a pole vaulter in high school, but the hurdles are agreeing with her in the early days of her time at Milligan.
“We’ve worked a lot on her speed endurance indoors,” Layne said. “I’m really proud of her work ethic and where she’s going.”
In the field events, freshmen throwers Victoria Nelson and Andrew Sheppard also made the most of their reps while competing in Boone. Nelson recorded a pair of personal bests while Shephard had a personal best of his own in the shot put.
“They’re big, strong kids,” Layne said. “I think they both want to be good. I’m starting to see incremental steps with those two.”
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After a season in which both the men’s and women’s cross country teams qualified for the national meet, the group convened for the annual awards dinner on Monday, and needless to say, it was a jovial affair.
Everyone on the team will be back next season, and hopes are high for the program.
“We have found ourselves in a really neat situation with an extremely fantastic group of student-athletes,” Layne said. “I think that they continue to impress us. They’re ambassadors for our school, they work really hard … we have a lot of momentum right now.”
Layne gave out awards following dinner. Segrave and Taylor Tafelsky won the Most Outstanding runner awards, Alissa Furches and Jay Solinger won the Freshman of the Year awards and Bradley Mathes and Luke Boeche were award Buffalo awards for being devoted teammates.
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The 2016 softball season will begin this weekend, but Milligan coach Wes Holly made a huge addition to his 2017 squad by signing Samantha Gosnell on Tuesday.
Gosnell is an outstanding pitcher, but she also batted .435 with nine home runs and 36 RBIs as a junior last spring. The Buffs were able to land Gosnell despite interest from Mars Hill and several other schools.
“She’s the real deal,” said Milligan coach Wes Holly. “She’s the all-star pitcher for Madison High School (N.C.). She’s a strong lefthander and she’s also a power hitter. We were really excited to get her.”