|Livingstone's Hayes eyes history|
|Sprinter a two-time national champ|
|Published Thursday, June 5, 2014 5:22 am|
Quanera Hayes wanted to give her mom a belated Mother’s Day gift.
|Livingstone junior Quanera Hayes (right) won her second NCAA Division II women’s 400 meters championship last month in Allendale, Mich. Her time of 51.91 was the ninth-fasted in the country across all divisions.|
She also gave herself a chance at track history.
Hayes, a Livingstone junior, earned her second straight Division II championship in the 400 meters last month at Allendale, Mich., to become the school’s most decorated track athlete. The Hope Mills, N.C., native’s inspiration was her mom, Lesley Capers, who was sitting in the stands at Grand Valley State cheering Hayes on at the finish line.
“My mom was out here watching me, so I wanted to do it for her so she could be proud of me, although I knew she already is,” Hayes said. “I just wanted her to watch me as I crossed the finish line. That’s what made this win even better. When I crossed the finish line, she was the only voice I heard.”
Hayes breezed to victory in the 400 with a season’s best 51.91 seconds – ninth best in the nation across all divisions – then finished fifth in the 200 or her 10th all-America performance in three years. Hayes is already looking forward to next year where her focus will turn to becoming just the second Division II sprinter to win three straight 400-meter championships.
“It means a lot,” she said. “I’m the first person at my school to have back-to-back championships and the first female to be a national champion.”
Earning the second championship was more of a mental ordeal for Hayes, who had the expectations of repeating going into the finals. It was a new feeling, but she managed with a strong performance that easily beat second-place Carly Muscaro of Merrimack (53.43) and Adams State senior Kayon Robinson (53.57).
“This year I felt like the pressure was on me more to repeat my national championship and I was more scared because I had so much riding on me,” Hayes said. “There were so many people expecting me to go out here and win again and I wasn’t used to that kind of pressure.”
Hayes’ performance was one of several championship efforts turned in by the CIAA. Johnson C. Smith finished second in the women’s championship with Danielle Williams and Samantha Elliott wining a pair of titles each and St. Augustine’s winning the men’s national championship.
“I think it opens people’s eyes to track,” Hayes said. People think track is as easy as it looks. The CIAA is recognized for basketball and stuff like that, but it lets people know we have other athletes who are making it.”
Hayes, who hopes to compete in the 2016 Olympics, has already set her sights on her season campaign. In addition to shooting for that third straight national championship, she wants to set a new standard in the 400.
“My goal for next year is actually to get the Division II collegiate record, which is a 51.2, I think. I just want to finish my last year better than any other year I’ve been at Livingstone College.”
Send this page to a friend