GULF SHORES, Ala. (May 27, 2017) – Two of Milligan College’s track and field seniors ended their careers on high notes on the final day of the NAIA Outdoor National Championships at Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium in Golf Shores, Alabama. The day started with Brandon Ellis‘s gritty performance in the marathon and ended with Hannah Segrave‘s fourth national title in the 800m.
Despite his back-to-back top three finishes in previous years, Ellis went into Saturday’s race seeded 75 out of 77. Ellis followed a patient game plan through the first 13 miles before making moves up the leaderboard in the back 13. Starting in the 30s, Ellis gradually worked his way up to top 10. Thanks to a combination of increasing pace and top runners dropping out due to the muggy conditions, Ellis battled his way to a fifth place finish and earned him his third consecutive All-American honor.
“Today was about being conservative early on and push the pace as the race went on,” Ellis said. “The conditions were rough between the 90% humidity and a starting temperature at 75 and people were dropping left and right. I think a lot of it was the guys at the top dying off, because they went out too fast in the beginning.”
The race conditions were hot and humid, with temperatures working up into the 80s during the race and humidity reaching as high as 90%. Due to the conditions, 32 runners had to drop out during the race and only 45 of the 77 crossed the finish line.
“I’ve said many times how this sport gives you victories without crossing the line first,” Head Coach Chris Layne said. “Eight weeks ago, this young man was in the hospital, but he used his experience, exercised his patience, and put his talent to work today. This was an incredibly rewarding performance.”
“It’s been awesome being able to come down all four years,” Ellis said. “This year, having injuries and sickness throughout the semester and even having to go the hospital, making All-American is much easier to appreciate.”
Ellis finished his career with three All-American honors, a national runner up as a sophomore, third place as a junior, and fifth as a senior.
Wrapping up the day and the season was Segrave in the 800m final. Segrave entered the finals with the second fastest preliminary time, trailing only Point Park University’s Anna Shields. Shields won the 1500m crown earlier in the day. Once the gun went off, the preliminary times were quickly forgotten as Segrave took the lead after the first turn and never gave it up. Segrave rolled to a 2:06.96 finish, almost four seconds faster than the runner up.
“All of my titles are very important to me,” Segrave said. “This one means a lot because it’s the way I wanted to finish my collegiate career.”
“It’s extremely difficult to put into words the impact Hannah has had on our program and me personally as a coach,” Layne said. “She always trusted our plan and executed the plan, and when you combine that with her level of talent, that’s how you earn four national titles.”
“Obviously we have a great coaching staff,” Segrave said. “They knew how to progress me, especially Coach Layne. They do everything right and that’s how I perform well. We do all of the little things well. I hope that people want to come to Milligan when they see my times, when they see that I came in as a 2:22 runner and I finished running a 2:03. I think the future of the program is very bright.”
Segrave finished her career as one of Milligan’s most decorated athletes in the school’s history. During her four years, Segrave accumulated four national titles, eight All-American honors, and numerous school records in both track and cross country.