Wright State senior distance runner Hailey Brumfield will join an exclusive club in program history when she laces up her shoes Thursday for the NCAA East Preliminary meet.
Brumfield earned a spot at this week’s event in Jacksonville, Fla. with a school-record 10,000-meter run time of 34 minutes, 47.58 seconds at Bucknell in mid-April. Tiffany Brigham in 2008 (100-meter dash) and Cassandra Lloyd from 2009-12 (100-meter hurdles) are the only other Raiders to make it this far.
“I went into the race with that goal in mind of trying to qualify for the regional meet. Leading into it I didn’t think that I would,” Brumfield said. ”When I actually ran faster than what I thought I could, I just walked off and started crying because it started to set in that I would have a chance to go.”
“Just as the runners before Hailey showed that in our program you can be successful at the Horizon League level, this accomplishment certainly makes running at the national level a bit more realistic and tangible,” Wright State coach Rick Williamson said
The former Tippecanoe High School runner didn’t envision reaching these heights when she made her collegiate debut in the fall of 2013. As a high school freshman and sophomore in running and competitive cheerleading, Brumfield sustained a stress fracture in her tibia and was starting to feel burnt out after graduation.
The situation made her more aware of how far she was able to push her body. Being under the direction of Williamson proved to be a perfect remedy for achieving a healthier balance.
“Coach Rick is more laid back, but I really like that about him because he’s not always on your case unless you’re doing something you shouldn’t be,” Brumfield said. “He always says he’s there to hold us back when we need to be held back. Other coaches don’t want to tell their athletes to slow down on a workout because they just want them to get faster.
“Coach Rick realizes you need that recovery time or to go slower sometimes, and not doing a workout or a race is actually going to benefit you.”
“Her (Brumfield) progress from year to year has simply been outstanding,” Williamson said. “She has improved in every area of her running, and that has added up to her ability to run 6.2 miles as fast as she could run for just one mile in high school.”
When her collegiate career comes to a close, Brumfield hopes to remain a fixture on the local running scene. She plans to run in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Marathon — her first — in Columbus in October, eyeing an Olympic Trials stand time of 2:45. Former WSU standout Alex Brown will pace her.
“That might be a lofty goal, but I’m not going to be upset if it doesn’t happen since it is my first,” Brumfield said. “It would be cool to just try and take a stab at it.”
The 12 fastest competitors in the 10,000 will move on from the East Regional to the NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas in two weeks. Brumfield will run at 9 p.m. on Thursday.
“I know that the competition is going to be really good. I’m just going to see how the race goes and make decisions based off of that,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll be upset if it doesn’t go well because I’ve never made it this far, and I think it’s just an accomplishment getting to this point.”