By Collin Brooks
Milligan 800-meter runner Hannah Seagrave has had a decorated career — her six All-American notches and 800-meter National Championship she concurred during her career are plenty to bring a smile to her face. However, there is one goal that she thought she attained, that was abruptly ripped from her hands.
So now, her fuel won’t be simply going to defend the national title that she won last year. This year, at the NAIA Indoor National Chapmionship scheduled for March 2-4 inside the Mini-Dome, she’ll hope to break the national record in the 800, again.
Seagrave went into the meet last year eyeing a sub 2:07 time, which she and her coach thought would be good enough to break the record. She accomplished that goal, but later that night her coach called her with some troubling news.
“That night coach (Chris Layne) called me and said that they had gotten it wrong, (the record) was a little bit quicker,” Seagrave said, laughing about it now.
But she won’t be smiling when she gets her final opportunity. She is vocal in saying that she would like her name next to the national record in the 800.
“Obviously I want to win another national title and I think the icing on the cake would be getting the national record and I think that is a good goal to have,” said Seagrave, who has run a 2:03.8 this season. “To leave with a national record, that would be cool. This is my last go.”
And she will attempt to break it, like last year, in front of her adopted home crowd.
The distance runner from Middlesborough, England came to Milligan four years ago. Layne recruited her as a distance runner, even though she had never run anything more than sprints in her career.
“I think I ran one (800 meter race), just to have a go at it, after I signed,” said Seagrave, who is currently ranked 50th in the world in the 800 meters according to her coach. “I didn’t run very fast, but I thought that I would be able to do it.
“It’s been cool to see my progression in the sport and being in a good environment. You get
what you put in, in both academics and athletics, at Milligan.”
Seven other Milligan athletes will be among the close to 1,000 athletes that will compete in the national championship inside the Mini Dome. The tournament returned last year after a two-year haitus. Before that, the event was held in Johnson City from 2001-2010.
“It’s exciting and we would like to have it back indefinitely and that is something that we are working toward,” Event Coordinator Gavin Andrews said. “For community impact, an event like this probably brings close to if not more than $1 million in visitors’ spending each year that we hold it. And you look at the hotel and motel tax, along with sales tax that it generates, all-in-all, it is a great event for the community.”
Layne said that he believes that Seagrave will be able to top the record, but there are plenty of other interesting events to watch besides his runner.
“There are just so many tremendous athletes from all over the country that will be on hand during the event,” said Layne, who is also serving as the tournament director. “Track fans and field fans all great events will really enjoy themselves.”
Even with the home field advantage, Layne said that his athletes will still stay in hotels, in order to get their minds set that they will be competing in the national championship.
“At the end of the day, they just need to be able to get their minds prepared, knowing they will be on the biggest stage,” Layne said. “They all have an opportunity to do something special and participate in a national event in front of their friends and family, and just down the road from their school.