HOBBS, N.M. (May 17, 2019) – Tallahassee Community College's running program achieved another milestone on Friday when Genevieve Printiss and Mia Wiederkehr ran in the NJCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
The event was held at the Ross Black Field of Champions on the campus of New Mexico Junior College.
Printiss, running in the women's 1500m, and Wiederkehr in the 800m, capped the Eagles' debut season by going head-to-head with the top two-year runners in the country. While neither advanced out of Friday's prelims, both runners walked away pleased with how the day unfolded.
"All in all, it was a great race and I'm really proud to be able to run with the other amazing athletes," said Printiss following the race. "This means a lot to me and my family but also it's good to know that I might be helping (in some way) improve future track teams (for TCC)."
Wiederkehr is no stranger to being a trail-blazer, having already run on the College's inaugural cross country team in 2016.
"It feels good to be a part of history," she said. "I'm so glad that TCC decided to start a (track) program. (Today), I stuck with a strategy and did the best I could. It felt good to wear the Tallahassee uniform and represent."
For both runners, Friday presented some new variables which altered the race strategy – preliminary heats, elevation – Hobbs is just over 3,600 feet – and most notably, a sustained breeze of 20 mph which all but ended hopes for PRs.
Printiss, who was seeded 11th in the opening heat of the 1500m, held serve. Her time of 5:23.56 was good for 11th in the heat and 25th overall.
Wiederkehr, meanwhile, had the advantage of watching two heats run ahead of her in the 800m. With a better idea of knowing what it would take to advance, Wiederkehr broke away with the lead pack and was in the thick of things until the final 150m. She finished fifth in the heat with a time of 2:26.01, good for 15th overall and just under four seconds from advancing to the finals.
Head coach Gary Droze couldn't have been more proud of his emerging stars.
"Both Mia and Gen put us, what I consider to be, about a year ahead of schedule," said Droze. "While I'm always optimistic, I thought it was a bit of a long shot for anybody on the squad to make those intense qualifying marks as a first-year program.
"The chance to get some experience at a national level, knowing they both have another season, really bodes well for the future."
While Wiederkehr will not run for the Eagles until next spring, Printiss will take some time off before gearing up for the 2019 cross country season, which begins in August.