Maya Cabiness started out her season with a serious injury and just recently was able to return after some time away. She only competed in half of the meets her teammates have in this outdoor season.
“My foot injury has happened before, there’s not much you can do to make it better,” she said. “It never went away. I just (had) to fight through it.”
She hasn’t been able to practice the 400m hurdles all year and said she is still trying to work out the kinks.
Despite all that, Cabiness was named CCAA Female Athlete of the Year at the three-day conference championships in La Jolla, Calif. over the weekend and earned a place in the 400m hurdles at the National Championships at the end of the month.
“I knew I was tired because it was a three-day event,” the senior athlete said. “But I thought ‘This is it, this is what we’ve worked for all year long…I really wanted to go out there and kill it.’”
Cabiness’ day started when she claimed a second place spot on the podium in the 100m dash to earn All-CCAA honors in that event. Ironically, the only person to beat her was her own teammate – Janesha Anthony, finishing 13 seconds before her. Cabiness remarkably made her way back to the podium shortly after with a first place win in the 400m hurdles, setting a new personal record of 60.32.
“I overcame some adversaries,” she said. “But the whole team came up and did what we had to do to for our best.”
Anthony joined Cabiness as an All-CCAA selection but they weren’t the only Gators, as freshman Alex Jones placed third in the shot put, sophomore Ashley Black came in second in the heptathlon and sophomore Michelle Chung finished second in the discus.
“Well it was a little different this weekend, because I wasn’t hoping I would get lucky,” Chung said. “I had good practices and I knew I could do it.”
Her mind was absolutely clear moments before her event.
“I thought of nothing,” Chung shrugged. “Usually I just focus on one thing and think ‘Get this right and you’ll go far’, but this time I just naturally did what I’ve been doing in practice and did it well.”
Chung and Black both barely missed their second all-conference teams as Chung placed fourth in the hammer throw, and Black tied for second in the high jump with three other athletes, but ultimately finished fifth because of the tie breaker.
The team finished in fifth place with a score of 76.16 points overall, improving on last years performance when they had a total score 59 points.
“We had a lot of athletes run their best times, throw their best (and) do their best marks in the field,” head coach Tom Lyons said. “The team was working together very well. We scored around the amount of points we thought we would.”
This year wasn’t without challenges though as Hilary King sprained her ankle in the long jump, which took her out of the 4×100 relay. Laura Stokes stepped in last minute to run and after a rearranged lineup and slight setback the relay team pulled a second place finish just behind Chico State, who took home the gold.
“Laura stepped in and did a great job with that,” Lyons said. “We just rolled with it.”
The relay team currently sits at 12th in the country, with the top 16 relay teams qualifying for National Championships at the end of this month. But other teams still have the chance to bump the Gators as competitions continue this week.
“We won’t know until next week if we make it, but we are pretty optimistic” Lyons said. “We had some really amazing forces in the conference meet, a heptathlete (Ashley Black) for the first time in seven years, Maya for Athlete of the Year, Michelle throwing the best marks of her life in all three events and Alex getting third (in throws) as a freshman.”
This weekend there will be a small meet put on by USF, a final opportunity for the Gators to get a mark to qualify for the Division II National Championships May 22.