The 2012 NCAA track and field season is coming to a close. This weekend all eyes will be on the regional meets in Austin, Texas and Jacksonville, Florida to see who makes it to the championships. One athlete to watch will be Nebraska’s Ashley Miller who won both the 800 meter (2:06.67) and 1500 meter (4:16.53) titles at Big 10s and scored points in 5000 meters. This season, she also set a Drake Relays record in winning the women’s university/college 1,500 in 4:15.61.
Running three events at Big 10s wasn’t easy especially since this was only the second time she had run a 5k the other being at Big 10s indoor.“ I don’t really know how to run a 5k. At the conference meets, it’s more tactical and not as fast pace. I was able to handle the pace so it wasn’t so daunting” Ashley said. Her main goal was just to stay in contact whereas in the 1500 meters and 800 meters she has more confidence and knows her strengths.
Ashley knew what she was getting into racing three events. “I just had to really mentally prepare for it,” she goes on to explain, “I had to make sure I was running smart in the races and putting myself in a good position was really important.” Recovery afterwards was just as important especially making sure to hydrate.
These performances at Big 10s have given Ashley confidence that she can run well at the west regionals in the 1500 meters and the 800 meters especially since she considers Big 10s such a strong conference. “I just think it is a confidence thing, knowing that I had solids performances with little rest. Now I’ll have more rest and a better week of training under my belt. I have had time to mentally prepare for it and I’m pretty ready to go” she states.
If Ashley makes it for the NCAA championships she will be returning to her home state of Iowa and to the track where she won many of her 15 Iowa Class 2A state championship. This made her the track athlete with the most state titles in Iowa history. She is looking forward to being back. “It is great having that crowd support and it is really encouraging. I really can’t wait for it” she exclaims.
Ashley won these championships when she attended Tipton High School. Tipton is an idyllic town so small that their Dairy Queen closes in the winter. So going to a major University like Nebraska was a bit of a change. “When you go to a big place like Nebraska or any other major University you are just another face in the crowd. Whereas in small town everyone knows everybody and I feel like it gave me being the competitor that I am more incentive to make a name for myself when it was more difficult to do so” she explains the major change though she reflects it wasn’t so hard of a transition due to the support of the team.
This want to make a name for herself and training purely as an 800 meter runner, she feels like led to her injury her freshman year where Ashley fractured her navicular. So she went to her coach and was able to convince him to let her run cross-country. She is surprised how much she has developed into a cross country runner and how it has helped her with 1500 meters. “It was just best for me because not only do I get enjoyment out of it but I think one of my strengths as a runner is my strength and cross country just helped build that strength even more” she said.
Ashley says her breakthrough race was the Big 10s 1500 meters last year “I just feel like I was under the radar until that point and even the beginning of my season wasn’t really going that well. Then everything just clicked together and I realized that I should run with these really good girls and it really just gave me a lot of confidence. It carried over to the regional meet where I qualified for outdoor nationals for the first time. I haven’t looked back ever since. I have just kept on improving after that” she states.
Ashley hopes to end her NCAA career with an All American finish in either the 1500 meters or the 800 meters. She will be moving down across the country to Knoxville, Tennessee where she will attend the graduate school in the public health school and explore her opportunities to continue training there. There will be more track meet between Tennessee and Nebraska, the Olympic Trials. “I’m really young and not as experienced as some of those ladies. It is a really great chance to rub elbows with some of those ladies and experience running in heats like that” she further explains that she would like a PR and to make it a few rounds, “The pressure is off of me, I have nothing to lose”.
Catch Ashley in action this weekend at the west regional!