As we approach the summer months and get ready for a new year of Canes sports, let’s take a look at how our Non-Revenue sports performed this past year, starting with our Men’s and Women’s Track and Field teams. Both programs are led by Amy Deem, an accomplished coach that should be viewed in the same vein as legendary baseball coach Jim Morris. This was Deem’s 27th year as the head of women’s track & field Miami, and her 9th as the head of both the men’s and women’s program (she is one of only 6 female coaches in Division I to head both programs). Her career has included 11 conference-team titles (ACC & Big East), a combined 173 First Team All-America honors by 57 different athletes, and 14 national championships. Her success hasn’t gone unnoticed at the highest levels of the sport, as she has won numerous coaching accolades from the United States Track & Field & Cross Country Coaches Association, and has been named head coach of the US Women’s Track Team for the 2007 World Championships, as well as the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Coach Deem carries a large legacy with her while leading Miami’s track & field program, and her athletes added to that legacy during the 2018 season.
Collegiate track & field is split into two seasons, the indoor season that occurs during the winter, and the outdoor season that occurs during the spring. During each season, teams compete in regular season meets to hit qualifying marks for the indoor national championships or for the regional championships during the outdoor season. The postseason begins with conference championship meets, and the ACC is one of the toughest conferences in the country for track & field (as it is with most sports). At the indoor ACC championships, the women brought home 4 medals, including 1 silver (pentathlon), and 3 bronze (pentathlon, 60m Hurdles, and the 4x400 relay) en route to a 6th-place team finish. The men brought home 2 bronze medals (shot put and weight throw) and finished 12th out of 15 teams. 12 athletes earned All-ACC recognition indoors, including Gian Piero Ragonesi(shot put), Amy Taintor(pentathlon), Michelle Atherley(pentathlon), Kevin Arreaga(weight throw) and Tiara McMinn(60m Hurdles) on the first team, and Atherley, Anna Runia, Kayla Johnson, Symone Mason(4x400m relay), Celine Thompson(high jump), Myles Valentine(60m), Erika Voyzey(high jump), and Alfreda Steele(200m) on the second team. Michelle Atherley was the lone representative at the NCAA Indoor National Championships, finishing 6th overall in the pentathlon en route to First Team All-American status.
The outdoor season was much more successful for the Canes, as they improved upon both team finishes in the conference, and qualified more athletes to the postseason meets. This season’s ACC Outdoor Championships were held at University of Miami’s Cobb Stadium, and the boost of the home crowd was felt by both the men’s and women’s teams. Coach Deem and the women’s squad returned to the mountaintop by securing the ACC team title behind clutch performances by the ACC Track MVP Symone Mason and the ACC Field MVP Michelle Atherley.
Mason took home individual conference titles in both the 200 and 400 meter sprints, while Atherley took home individual conference titles in the heptathlon, high jump, and added a 5th place finish in the 100m hurdles. The Miami women also swept both the 4x100 and 4x400, with Mason featuring on both relays and Atherley joining her on the 4x400. Other medalists for the Canes included Samantha Gonzalez with a gold in the 400m hurdles, Celine Thompson with a silver in the high jump, Debbie Ajagbe with a bronze in the shot put, and Niara Hill with a bronze in the triple jump. The men finished 9th out of 15 teams, led by a silver medal by Andreas Christodoulou in the decathlon, a silver medal by Kevin Arreaga in the hammer throw, 2 bronze medals for Gian Piero Ragonesi in the shot put and discus, and a bronze medal by McKinly Brown in the 400m hurdles. The quality performances by both the men and women led to 27 All-ACC selections (22 first team and 5 second team), and 22 entries to the NCAA East Preliminary meet, where athletes fight to finish in the top 12 to qualify for the NCAA National Championships in Eugene, Oregon. 8 Canes advanced from the preliminary meet to the National Championships: Kevin Arreaga(hammer throw), Gian Piero Ragonesi(discus), Samantha Gonzalez(400m hurdles, 4x400 relay), Anna Runia(400m hurdles, 4x400 relay), Debbie Ajagbe(discus), Tiara McMinn(100m hurdles), Michelle Atherley(heptathlon, 4x400 relay), and Symone Mason(4x400 relay).
All of the training and practice prepared the Canes for this moment.— Miami Track/XC (@CanesTrack) June 6, 2018
The 2018 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships begin today! pic.twitter.com/duxxStAbFx
The NCAA National Championships are currently taking place through the weekend, June 6-9 at the historic Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon. You can watch the championships on ESPN or ESPN3.