SALISBURY — First, it was Jordan Vaden.
Now Quanera Hayes.
The Livingstone track star joined Vaden as a national title-holder and became the school’s first female to do so when she won the Division II title in the 400 meters.
Hayes, a sophomore from Hope Mills, ran the 400 meters in 51.53 to capture the national title on Saturday in Pueblo, Colo., at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Hayes’ record-breaking time eclipsed by three seconds the 54.38 she ran on Thursday in a preliminary, qualifying heat. Her national championship — the first for any female Livingstone College athlete — was won at the Neta and Eddie DeRose Thunderbowl, considered one of the top football and track facilities in Division II.
Hayes’ time was the fastest ever recorded by a female in the 400 meters at the Neta and Eddie Rose Thunderbowl. It also qualifies her for the USA Outdoor National Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, June 18-23. If Hayes performs well enough at the USA Outdoor National Championships, she could qualify for the World Championships to be held in Russia later this year.
With her first-place win in the 400 meters and a fourth-place finish in the 200 meters, with a time of 23.30, Hayes is now a six-time NCAA Division II All-American and undoubtedly one of the most-heralded athletes in Livingstone history.
“When she crossed the line first I had all kinds of emotions going through my body, and I was shaking,” said Livingstone coach Justin Davis, who was assisted by volunteer Sprints Coach Timothy Dunlap. “The emotions poured over me. We as coaches can train athletes, but they’re the ones who are actually out there running and putting their bodies on the line. I can tell Quanera what to do, but she’s the one who has to go out there and do it. It takes heart.
“By becoming a national champion in the 400 meters and outperforming her opponents, Quanera showed determination, stamina, mental toughness and a solid belief in herself.
“I’m very proud of her.”
This has been a banner year for Hayes, a soft-spoken sophomore education major.
During the CIAA Championships at Virginia State in late April, she won the 400 meters with a time of 53.44.
Of course, winning the 400 meters in the CIAA, though nice, can’t compare to winning a national title.
Vaden became a national champion in the 200 meters in 2004 under the direction of then head coach Cliff Huff.
“This is a great accomplishment for her and for Livingstone,” said Davis, the successful Blue Bear coach. “It opens a lot of doors for Livingstone, puts us back on the map in the track and field world and lets people see what Livingstone’s track and field program is all about.”
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