In the outdoor season finale, all three athletes representing the Maroons made it to their respective championship finals.
On Saturday, third-year Brianna Hickey, second-year Michelle Dobbs, and first-year Ade Ayoola competed in the 1500-meter, 800-meter, and high jump finals at the NCAA DIII Outdoor Championships in Canton, NY. Hickey walked away with a 12th place finish, while Ayoola came in at 20th overall in her first collegiate national final. Dobbs recorded the fourth-fastest time in the preliminary round, and eventually finished fourth overall the following day in the finals. Dobbs bested her previous day’s time by over one second, and snagged herself All-American recognition.
“It was an honor to be able to make the podium for All-American status,” Dobbs commented on the honor, before going on to explain the added difficulties she faced competing on the national stage.
“A big challenge of racing at the national level is that the fields of competitors are so much closer together than the races during our regular season,” Dobbs continued on the strategy that goes into racing at the championships.
“Because of this, positioning and strategy become much more important, and at times I found it difficult to find a balance between being in a position to respond to moves and in a position out of the wind and on the rail.”
Halfway through her college career, Dobbs has already amassed four All-American honors, collecting one for each championship she has been able to compete in. Three of those have now been achieved in the 800-meter, with the fourth earned this March at Salem, North Carolina in the Distance Medley Relay (DMR).
Hickey, who has two All-American indoor honors on her résumé, was looking to add her first in an outdoor event. Previously, she took her first in the mile during the 2014 season, and her second in the DMR with Dobbs.
Besides having a lot to focus on individually, all three of the women also expressed their excitement at being able to share this experience with one another.
“My favorite part of the experience was the people I went with,” Ayoola said on her first championship. “The fact that everyone competed on Saturday [in the finals] was fantastic.”
“It was a very fun day for us all to compete on Saturday. I also feel that watching Brianna qualify on day one was a perfect way to start off the meet for us and contributed to my mindset for my Day Two race,” noted Dobbs, who shared similar sentiments with Ayoola on the collective experience.
Hickey had her preliminary race on Thursday, while the other two Chicagoans had their respective opening rounds on Friday.
Despite the season finally coming to a close, there is still work to be done for these athletes as they set their sights on next season and beyond, ready to embark on a new set of goals and aspirations.
“From this experience, I’ve learned to stop putting so much pressure on myself,” Ayoola explained.
“I’m excited to see what I can do in the future,” Dobbs said, referring to her middle distance running, as well as her long distance events which were cut short this season due to injury. “But even more so, I am excited about our strong team and would anticipate an even larger number of nationals-caliber performances from us next year across the board.”