Riley staying focused on goals
Freshman sprinter powered Lincoln (Mo.) to MIAA title
Judith Riley, the diarist, is in rut. The Lincoln (Mo.) freshman sprinter has written entries about each of her performances, each one generally with the same ending. Those entries are more magnificent than mundane, though. They have a happy ending for her and the Blue Tigers with Riley winning. A lot.
Most recently, she won the 100 meter hurdles (13.66), the 100 meters (11.25) and the 200 meters (23.06) to help Lincoln’s women’s team take the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association Championships. Additionally, her solid season has qualified her to compete in the NCAA Div. II championships. Individually, she will be in the 100 meters and 200 meters and run a leg of the 4x100 meter relay for Lincoln – ranked No. 2 nationally – during the event held May 26-28 in Turlock, Ca.
“It’s just something I do that has helped me,” Riley said, a native of Jamaica. “I take notes about everything – the wind, the weather, the track conditions, goals I have and times I want to run. Things like how I felt before the race and how I felt after it.
“It’s not a thick book. It’s something that I learned from my first college and it has helped me here.”
And it was circumstances that led Riley to Jefferson City. She began her career at the University of Technology in Kingston, Jamaica. Lincoln initially recruited Riley during her first year. She declined at the time after committing to stay there for two years, then reassessing her situation. Her situation, however, would be clarified for her when the university made drastic cutbacks in scholarship money. A full ride to Lincoln awaited her, which made her decision to leave home and travel to a new school 2,734 miles away was not a hard one.
Also facilitating the transition was that she wouldn’t be going into a totally foreign situation. Shee had family in the U.S. and had visited them in New York. As a member of the national team, she competed in the Penn Relays, and in the Pan Am Games staged here.
The coach who recruited her was is her Lincoln head coach, Victor Thomas, a native of Kingston. Beyond Thomas, she found familiar faces in teammates Shanna Kay Wright and Nyoka Cole – both athletes she competed against back home. All totaled there are 10 Jamaicans on the women’s team and 10 on the men’s team.
“The only thing I really had to get used to was being in [cold and snow] for extended periods,” Riley said. “I was able to come in here and just compete.”
Which she has done both indoor and outdoor. She already has the national championship in the 60-meters (7.34). And going into the NCAA Division II championships she will compete as No. 1 in the 100 meters, No. 7 in the 200 meters and the No. 1 4x100 meters relay team. It’s a competition she is looking forward to. It is the competitor in her. Riley thrives going against the best. Just like when she and her teammates took the 4x100 at the Drake Relays, and the 45.10 she and her teammates put up in the same event at the Kansas Relays to win it.
“I know for me, I run faster and a lot better against better competition,” Riley said. “It challenges you. Nothing against Division II, but not everyone is at the same level as far as times. When running against Division I, we are all pretty much on the same level. We rise to the competition.
“There is a lot of competition here (at Lincoln). It is very competitive. It’s been like that since I got on campus. That has made us all better, so we look forward to the championships.”
And writing another happy ending.
“Sure, and to thank the Lord, my coach and everyone who has helped me,” Riley said. “I just want to reach the finals. If I do that I will have reached all my goals.
“I set outdoor goals to have 11.35 in the 100 and I already have an 11.25. I wanted a 23.40 in the 200 and I have a 23.06. Doing well at nationals will give me something more to write about.”