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Women Soar at Lopez Classic behind Miller

By Natalie Clericuzio     3/31/11 7:00pm

 Unlike any other race in track and field, the steeplechase is like a high-speed obstacle course around the oval. During this 3,000-meter event, competitors cross 28 barriers comprised of 38 four inch by four inch blocks of wood and jump over a 12-foot water jump seven times. The steeplechase is adapted from the English horseracing event of the same name.

Don't tell that to redshirt freshman Lindsay Miller. Last Friday night, Miller competed in her first steeplechase at the 29th Annual Victor Lopez Classic and placed first overall, finishing in 11:26.75. Before competing, Miller had limited experience with the event, having only practiced running hurdles for a week beforehand and the water jumps for a day. Somehow, her lack of experience worked in her favor.

Before the race, Miller said she was just looking to do her best.



"There was no pressure, and I just wanted to see how it would go," Miller said. "I wanted to do well, but I didn't have any specific expectations for myself."

As she got into the race, the advice Head Coach Jim Bevan had given her before the race helped her realize that she had a shot at winning.

"Jim told me … if I got into a position where I thought I could move up and I was still feeling good, then I should definitely go for it," Miller said. "The first part of the race I was just seeing what it was like to go over barriers with other people around and getting used to the rhythm. Then I picked it up as much as I could and worked my way up at the end."

Miller said she was definitely surprised to win in her first go at the event.

"It was my first steeplechase, so I had no expectation of winning," Miller said. "It was really exciting to try something new and really go at it with everything I had and have it pay off. I love the steeplechase race because it's a different race than anything else, but that certainly made it really exciting to succeed in."

Bevan said that Miller's performance showed that she indeed has what it takes to excel in the race.

"The steeplechase rewards people who have good endurance and the ability to adjust on their feet and strong legs and who are fairly coordinated," Bevan said. "It's a very hard event, and apparently it's a very good event for Lindsay Miller.

"She moved up from fifth to fourth to third to second, and she sat in second place on the heels of the leader for two and a half laps, and then she outkicked the leader in the last 200."

Overall, Bevan believes Miller has great potential.

"I think her future is very bright; she will only get better."

In addition to Miller's performance, several other Owls shone for the women's track team over the weekend. Senior Sarah Agara placed first in the triple jump, posting her longest jump in two years at 40'-10.5". Redshirt freshman Aaren Pastor finished third in the 1,500-meter run, posting a lifetime best of 4:40.79. In the hammer throw, senior Tina Robinson placed second overall, throwing 169' 7", just three feet from her lifetime best mark and ahead of her progress at this time last year, according to Bevan. Robinson's younger sister Sharae, a sophomore, placed sixth with a lifetime best of 148' 9", and junior Brittany Brown rounded out the top eight with a toss of 145' 4".

Rice's 4x400 meter relay placed fifth overall, thanks to the following runners: sophomore Lilian Nwora, Agara, junior Maya Kirk and senior Sarah Lyons. Lyons' anchor leg, with a split of 54 seconds, was the fastest she has run in two years. Kirk, however, stole the show in the third leg of the relay.

Bevan said that Kirk's no-holds-barred performance was nothing short of inspirational.

"We had seen glimpses of her ability in practice but never seen her really unload as fast as she can run until Saturday night," Bevan said. "When she got the stick on the third leg, she looked the best I've ever seen her, and she laid it all on the line. She ran an unbelievably fast leg for 85 percent of the race.

"She inspired me, and she inspired the team with her ability to just go out and lay it on the line and find out where she was. If she continues to do that, she'll become a very good 400 runner because she split her 200 and 300 segments extremely fast."

Next week the women's track and field team will aim to continue its successes, traveling to compete at Stephen F. Austin University against SFA, the University of Arkansas- Pine Bluff and the University of Louisiana-Monroe.



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