Win Braswell, For The Miami Student

The culmination of a season of hard work will all be showcased as the Miami University women’s indoor track and field team gears up for the 2011 Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championships this weekend hosted by Akron University. The RedHawks look to capture their first ever title in a wide-open conference.

“We’re ready all across the board,” Head Coach Kelly Phillips said. “We have no excuses. There are five teams that can win it, and it definitely will be a close meet. The team is locked in, from the older athletes down to the freshman; they’re showing they aren’t scared of the big stage and that’s what we need. I think this meet will be fun for everyone, except the coaches — at least until it’s over.”

Senior sprinter Rachael Clay will be one of the athletes Miami will look to this weekend as she has had a spectacular season thus far. In addition to setting a new personal best in the 400-meter dash, Clay was an integral part of the school record-setting 4×400 meter relay team.

Clay has her sights set on the current school record of 54.79 seconds and hopes to make history this weekend.

Fellow senior sprinter Diona Graves has had an illustrious career at Miami, breaking several records and solidifying herself as a top threat in the MAC year in and year out.

After a two week stint of not competing at the beginning of the season, Graves returned to have what she described as “bad starts” that led to disappointing results, including a fourth place finish in the 60-meter dash — a race she has consistently finished in the top three in all season long.

“I’m more focused on the winning aspect over the record-breaking aspect, but it would be nice to break some school records,” Graves said. “I think that it is definitely possible this weekend.”

Junior hurdler Layne Baggett is also getting close to setting a new school record, consistently dropping time with each meet, but she has recently tapered off at 8.63 seconds.

“I really need to focus and picture myself running the race,” Baggett said. “We have been training hard this season and I just need to trust myself, coach and my training. I enjoy running the 100-meter hurdles more, but winning an indoor championship is definitely on the top of my list. It’s going to be a close race as there is a lot of good competition, but I really just need to believe that I will be the one taking home the win.”

There are also several other athletes to look for this weekend, including senior thrower, Alexandra Roberts, and freshman sprinter Charlotte Myers.

Roberts is on the cusp of breaking her current school record, set last season in the shot put, while Myers looks to top off a strong season of individual races. Myers was also the anchor of the record-setting 4×400 meter relay team.

After all the excitement, hype and anticipation, the time for the Red and White to flex their muscles and show where they stand in the conference is right around the corner. The MAC Indoor Championships begin Friday at a time still to be determined.