Of course, that was before she made the jump to 800 meters, where Segrave has blossomed into a three-time NAIA national champion. And while you might expect the story of her meteoric rise to be an action-packed jaunt, it’s actually been quite the opposite.
In the same way as the Colorado River carved out the Grand Canyon, Segrave has used consistent persistence coupled with a complete buy-in to the training program put forth by Milligan coach Chris Layne to rewrite Milligan’s record book during her four-year career.
“Before I came, I didn’t know if this was going to pan out,” Segrave said. ”I kind of just chipped away at it over the years and got to this point right now.”
Layne said Segrave’s secret to success has been simple, but far from easy. She trusts the game plan Layne lays out for her, follows it to the letter and reaps the rewards when she lines up to race.
Given her consistent improvement over the course of a four-year career, Segrave’s trust in Layne has been well-placed.
“I think you have to trust your coach,” she said. “I think that’s one reason I’ve been successful is that I’ve been completely bought in to what he’s telling me to do.”
In addition to trusting the process, Segrave has also committed herself to track and field to a degree most athletes never approach. Her commitment to maximizing her potential runs so deep that it can be downright boring.
Layne recalls many times over the course of Segrave’s time at Milligan when she has turned down opportunities to go hiking with classmates or to go on a trip that would require her to spend hours in a car. Instead, Segrave tends to stay put in her dorm with her feet up, watching a movie on her laptop while giving her body the rest it needs to be in peak condition at the next meet.
And while most athletes don’t go to the training room unless they’re hurt, Segrave is there like clockwork each week as a preventative measure.
“She’s not going to the training room when she feels bad, she’s going when she’s feeling good to be sure she doesn’t get to the point where she’s feeling bad,” Layne said. “It’s just the consistency of her commitment to all the little things.
“What’s enjoyable for her in life and what is exciting and motivating is being the best she can be in the sport of track and field. And I think that’s where she finds her peace and her passion now.”
While the hours and days between meets can be tedious, to watch Segrave take the track in competition is to see poetry in motion. This is where all the small unseen sacrifices pay off as Segrave uses her efficient stride to leave the field in her wake.
And now, after four years, Segrave has reached the homestretch of her collegiate career. Next month, she’ll travel to the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in search of one final national title, and then the journey will be over.
“I still have a month until I’m done with Nationals, so it’s kind of sunk in, but not really,” Segrave said. “It flew by. I was saying the other day that I can’t believe how fast it’s gone. From freshman year to now, how much I’ve improved, I think that’s made it go even quicker.”
Following the NAIA championships, life will go on for Segrave and for Milligan. But truth be told, not a lot will change initially as spring transitions into summer. Segrave will stay in the area to train with Layne as she weighs a potential career as a professional runner, and Layne believes she’ll succeed.
“She’s note even to the point where she’s crossed the halfway point of her potential,” he said. “She’s really had four years to get up to speed to be a middle-distance runner.”
When the fall rolls around, Milligan will move on without Segrave, but her presence will be felt for some time to come. For her part, Segrave wants to be remembered as a hard worker who reached an elite level despite running for a small school.
“I think I’ve tried to prove that it doesn’t matter if you’re NAIA or NCAA,” she said. “As long as you’ve got a good coach and you want to succeed, you’ll be able to do it.”
After bringing Segrave over from Europe and guiding her to new heights, Layne and his staff are getting ready to announce a recruiting class with a decidedly European feel. In addition to a hurdler from France, Layne has signed a male distance runner from the same club Segrave competed with in Middlesbrough.
“She’s given us far more than what we’ve given her, because she’s given us a true template of success, and I think she’s undoubtedly made me a better coach,” Layne said.