Running for the fourth time at Hayward Field, the University of Miami’s Shakima Wimbley was no stranger to the atmosphere and intensity that comes as the athletes make their way into the final 100 meters.
As she lined up for the start of the 400 meters on Saturday afternoon at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, however, Wimbley’s attempt to block out the nerves might have affected her too much. She ended up running from the middle of the pack and finished fifth in 52.08 seconds.
“I don’t think I ran my best [Saturday] because I tried to stay too relaxed,” Wimbley said, “I came in trying to ignore the jitters, and I ended up running with no emotion.”
A strong headwind couldn’t derail Wimbley’s kick on Thursday when she won her heat and qualified for the final in 51.68 seconds, but she could not improve on that mark when it mattered most.
“I knew this was my last individual race of the year, so I put all I had out there,” Wimbley said, “Everything didn’t end up how I had hoped, but I am still happy with it.
“I am a two-time All-American now, so I am very satisfied.”
Wimbley ran the fastest collegiate 400-meter time in 2015 with 50.84, which ranks sixth in the world, but she fell short of that personal best in the final, coming up .41 behind Florida State’s Kala Funderburk, who finished in 51.67 and won from lane eight.
Just an hour after her finish in the 400, Wimbley made her way back out to the track to compete in the meet’s last event, the 1,600 relay.
Wimbley ran the anchor leg in 51.64 and helped Miami to a fifth-place finish in 3:33.90, behind Florida’s winning time of 3:28.12. The relay points put the Hurricanes in 28th place with eight team points.
“For the last race of the year, I think we all ran pretty well,” Wimbley said, “We all ran hard and did the best we could. Now we have next year to look forward to, and we can know that it’s OK to come out feeling a little nervous. Sometimes, that’s what drives you.”
Florida’s women brought home a second national title in the 400-meter relay. Robin Reynolds, Destinee Gause, Shayla Sanders and Kyra Jefferson ran a 42.95.