Q&A Bulldog Spotlight: Getting to Know Adrian College Track & Field Performers Hairston, Smith

Q&A Bulldog Spotlight: Getting to Know Adrian College Track & Field Performers Hairston, Smith

Jan. 11 Spotlight: Wrestlers Mara Eason, Zach Rieger

ADRIAN, Mich.--Every Wednesday, the Adrian College Athletic Communications Office will unveil a Q&A format interview with a student-athlete(s) from one of the Bulldogs' 40 intercollegiate athletics programs for a new series, Bulldog Spotlight: Getting to Know..." This edition features representatives from the Adrian track & field teams:

Takiyah Smith l Senior l Rochester, Mich. (Avondale High School) l Biology major with a psychology minor 

 Q: Why did you choose to come to Adrian College?
A: "I chose to come here because of the small school atmosphere. The personal commitment the college faculty and staff have with each other is beneficial to individually help every student."

Q: What are your pre-meet rituals?
A: "I'm not the type of person that listens to music while I warm up. Before every event, I go through our normal dynamic stretches and drills apart. I try not to get too anxious because, while nervousness helps you win, too many nerves can cause simple mistakes. I trust the coaches and (the) training has prepared me enough to be successful in every race, which also helps with anxiety." 

Q: How do you handle the demands of being a student and athlete at the same time?
A: "Time management is key to success being inside and outside the classroom. I have to plan when to study around weightlifting, practices, and the occasional nap every day."

Q: What does being a NCAA Division III student-athlete mean to you?
A: "It's a unique perspective because we're not financially obligated to perform well (we don't receive athletic scholarships). So, I don't have to be an athletic student, I am an actual student-athlete that has the importance of school and track. Track is different than any other sport because Division I through III and NAIA race against each other at every meet, excluding conference and nationals. It raises the level of competition to compete with better divisions."

Q: What is your best Adrian sports memory?
A: "Breaking the 1600-meter relay (record) my sophomore year. This was the first outdoor record broken in my collegiate career. During the final last chance meet of the season, not setting foot on the track until around 11:30 p.m. after many rain delays, and being out in lane eight, our team pushed to break the record. It was nice to break the record during Coach Larson's--the former head of the track and field program for many years--final meet as an Adrian coach." 

Q: You set a few school records and were a Scholar All-American last season, what does those honors mean to you? And how do you bring that success into bigger things this season??
A: From my individual to my relay records, I feel honored for the accomplishment. Scholar All American means the most to me because records are meant to be broken and any other person can break the records I have set. But, no one can take the accomplishment of being successful in the classroom and on the track. I just want to continue the success and work harder to go to nationals and be All-American athlete as well as Scholar All-American."

Q: What do you like the most about the Adrian campus?
A: "I love having a small campus. Especially during the winter months, it's great to have everything less than six minutes away and not freeze walking to class."

Q: What's the best advice (and from who?) that anyone has given you? 
A: "I think every track athlete has heard the saying 'You're only as good as your last race.' It's important to keep this in mind because it reminds me that I am my own competition. I cannot gage how fast I will go off someone else's pace because I would let them control the race and they will win. If I am racing against myself, I control the outcome and pace of the race that will give me the strength and confidence to win." 

Q: If you could meet a celebrity, who would it be and what would you ask s/he? 
A: "Beyoncé she's my favorite artist of all time. I would ask 'how do you balance having a successful long career and a personal life?'" 

Q: What does being a Bulldog mean to you?
A: "It means being a member of a small, tight-knit community. Being a senior, I can walk across the stage in April saying I had a great education and developed friendships that can last a lifetime."

Q: If you could visit a place that you've never been, where is it and why?
A: "France to visit some of the castles, like Versailles, and Paris. I just love French culture and history."

 

Blake Hairston l Senior l Oak Park, Mich. (Royal Oak High School) l Sports Management major with a minor in communication arts

Q: Why did you choose to come to Adrian College?
A: "What drew me to Adrian College was the opportunity to play collegiate sports. Once I visited I loved the size and look of the campus, the hospitality of the students and faculty was great, and the sports management major strongly interested me."

Q: What are your pre-meet rituals?
A: "At the beginning of the day I always eat a pack of fruit snacks, a granola bar, and water. I warm-up an hour before my event without lacing my shoes. I always wear a Nike headband when I run. And the past two seasons I’ve had to listen to two specific songs before I run: “No Tellin’” by Drake and “Run It” by Logic (no pun intended)."

Q: How do you handle the demands of being a student and athlete at the same time?
A: "Just trying to keep myself organized the best I can in regards to homework, meeting with groups or professors, campus employment, clubs I’m involved in, or track workouts. I write down the list of things I do for the week, leave it open on my desk and check things off as the week goes on."

Q: What does being a NCAA Division III student-athlete mean to you?
A: "To me it means we are the hardest working athletes in college sports because we have to work for everything we want that is sports-related or is not sports-related."

Q: What is your best Adrian sports memory?
A: "It's the MIAA conference championship meet my sophomore year at Albion College, because we had been underdogs in the MIAA for some years and that meet we had so many great performances from the men's and women's teams. We may not have won first (place) but we left that day knowing we surprised a lot of other teams in the conference. Personally, I ran very well that meet. I medaled in four events and was named All-MIAA that season."

Q: What do you like the most about the Adrian campus?
A: "My favorite part about the campus is the people. Since it’s a small school, we’re like a big Bulldog family." 

Q: What personal goals do you have for the 2016-17 season? For the program??
A: Personally, I would like to break the school’s indoor 4x200-meter relay, the outdoor 200-meter, and the outdoor 4x400-meter relay records. I would also like to medal at our indoor and outdoor conference championships again and reach Nationals for the first time in my career. For our program, the ultimate goal is to win the MIAA conference championships for men and women but I’d also like to see us bond and gel as a team more and more, because I always have a great time competing alongside teammates I’m close to. 

Q: What's the best advice (and from who?) that anyone has given you?
A: "My grandmother always tells me to 'be yourself'. It sticks with me because that's what makes us all unique and if you don't stay true to yourself, you lose the greatest part about you."

Q: If you could meet a celebrity, who would it be and what would you ask s/he?
A: "Barack Obama. I would ask him what his inspiration was growing up to strive to reach the heights he rose to?"

Q: What does being a Bulldog mean to you?
A: "Being a Bulldog means you're confident, tough and resilient."

Q: If you could visit a place that you've never been, where is it and why?
A: "Italy. Because I love Italian food and it would be interesting to see Italian culture first-hand."

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