Milligan was once again the host school for the event, and Layne served as the director of the meet. With eight athletes competing, it was certainly a taxing weekend for Layne and his coaching staff. But in the end, the Buffs put together some memorable performances on a national stage.
Hannah Segrave won her second straight national title in the women’s 800 meters, Taylor Tafelsky once again earned all-American honors in the men’s mile and seven of Milligan’s eight athletes outperformed their seeding in their respective events.
“It was a fun weekend,” Layne said. “Tallying the feedback, I think that was the best one we’ve done. The Milligan kids who worked the event were phenomenal. Our staff was phenomenal. We had the best group of officials we’ve ever had. It was just an all-around positive experience.”
Segrave’s runaway win in the women’s 800 was slightly bittersweet. The senior had her eyes locked on the NAIA indoor record, but was unable to reach that mark. One major factor that hindered Segrave’s quest was the lack of someone to push her throughout the race, which she won by nearly seven seconds.
“For her, to put the pressure on her to get herself to that point mentally when she knew there wasn’t going to be anyone in there to help her, even though she had the record to chase, it’s hard to get past that threshold,” Layne said. “What can you say about this girl? She’s special. I think she wowed a lot of people on Saturday regardless of the record.”
Tafelsky came into last week’s meet at a bit of a disadvantage after missing out on the Appalachian Athletic Conference meet, but he gave all he had in order to add another all-American honor to his resume.
“He wasn’t where he should have been,” Layne said. “But that’s where he was. When you look at everything as it relates to him, I was pleased with his performance.”
With outdoor season approaching, Layne said the goal is to build on the momentum his program has generated and qualify at least 10 or 12 athletes for the outdoor nationals.
“I think you look at the body of work, and the body of work tells us that it was an awesome weekend for us,” he said. “I think we have some really, really good momentum.”
The swimming program is also riding quite a wave of momentum after their trip the the NAIA nationals last week.
The men’s team led the way at the national meet, finishing 16th overall in the team competition despite only bringing four swimmers. Milligan coach Kelly Essler said opposing coaches at the meet certainly took notice of how much the program has grown over the course of a year.
“It was really cool because coaches from different schools came up to me and said Milligan’s grown so much,” Essler said. “The boys are finally starting to make a name for themselves. We’re starting to beat teams that that we haven’t beaten in a long time.”
While Sara Farmer managed to set four school records as a freshman, Essler said the women’s team still has a ways to go to build the depth the men’s team had this season. But Farmer did manage to make the finals at the national meet, and the women’s relay teams got much faster as the year went on, so there are plenty of signs of growth.
Overall, the Buffs set nine school records this season with four of them coming at the national meet. When you consider that Farmer is a freshman and three of the four male swimmers who represented Milligan at the nationals were underclassmen, the future seems bright.
“They’re still a young team and we still have a lot of time to improve with them,” Essler said.