The University of Miami’s Michelle Atherley knew she got the title in Friday’s NCAA Division I Women’s Indoor Track and Field Championship, but had to wait until it was official to make sure.
Once her name came across the board in the top slot, she burst into tears as she realized she had become a national champion in the .
“That was a very happy moment and I’m really glad I made it here after people close to me have been telling me I would be a national champion,” Atherley told Hurricanesports.com. “Now that it happened, it’s really surreal and I’ve seen so many do this and now I can say I’m a national champion.”
Atherley, a graduate of Port Charlotte High School and North Port native, became the 10th women to win the national championship at Miami.
After breaking her own Miami record in the event at the ACC Championship event, Atherley was .01 seconds off her personal best in the 60-meter hurdles with a finish in 8.16 seconds. From there she set a personal-best mark at 1.78 meters in the high jump.
On her last attempt in the shot put, Atherley earned another personal-best mark with a 13.01-meter throw. The mark was good for a third-place finish and kept her in first-place heading into the long jump where she finished third with a 6.07-meter jump.
“Michelle has been a champ all year,” head coach Amy Deem said. “She’s been able to step up, react and respond to what goes on around her and as the level of competition climbed, she was able to respond. That’s the true definition of a champion right there.I’m just proud of her and everything’s she done. She’s stayed focused by performing incredible at ACCs and came back two weeks later and performed phenomenally today. It’s a testament to her hard work, dedication and commitment.”
Atherley finished fourth in the final event with a time of 2:14.34 and won her first national title with a program record score of 4,547 points, besting her conference championship score by 49 points.
“I knew coming into today, the goal was to win a national title,” Atherley said. “I wanted to go in and execute in each event and make my marks. I really focused on each event and didn’t even look at the scoreboard, but I feel great.”