By Holly Weber, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn.—Na'Asha Robinson had a historic season for the 2017 Tennessee Tech outdoor track and field team. She broke multiple school records, as well as, became the first Golden Eagle track athlete to reach the elite NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore.
Robinson put in numerous hours of training all year long, preparing her to race amongst the nation's best of the best. She opened up her 2017 outdoor season with a second-place finish in the 400-meter dash at the Weems Baskin Invitational. She recorded the best time of any college athlete in the race, however, came up just .11 seconds shy of the lead runner associated with ASICS. She topped participants from schools of South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Tennessee State, Savannah State, Alabama State, ad Charleston Southern. Her 400-meter time then ranked her third in the country, second in the South Region, and first in the OVC.
Robinson continued to see success as the season progressed claiming first-place finishes at the Hilltopper Relays in the 200-meter with a 23.68 mark, at the Austin Peay Invitational in the 400-meter with a time of 53.35, and at the Tennessee Challenge in the 400-meter with a 54.28 mark.
Finally, it was time for Robinson to put all of her training throughout the season to the test at the 2017 Ohio Valley Conference Outdoor Championships. Robinson represented the Golden Eagles in the 400-meter and opened up her first day of competition with a first-place finish in the preliminary rounds with a time of 53.64. Robinson also had a stellar showing in the 200-meter for the Purple and Gold recording a time of 24.02 in the preliminaries to finish second place and advance to the finals in both races.
On the final day of the OVC Outdoor Championships, Robinson continued to demonstrate why she is one of the best runners in school history. She opened up the day's festivities with an individual title in the 200-meter. Robinson recorded a Tech and OVC record time of 23.13 in the race to top all other participants and earn the Golden Eagles valuable team points. She then competed in the 400-meter dash where she blazed past everyone to claim another OVC Title with a time of 53.34.
With already two individual titles under her belt, Robinson would not stop there. She, along with the quad of Sharnique Leonce, D'Airrien Jackson, and Crystal Liebenberg claimed victory in the 4x100-meter relay with a time of 45.78, setting another Tech school record in the process.
The season did not end there for the sophomore sensation. She earned a spot in the NCAA East Preliminaries in Lexington, Ky., where she would represent the Golden Eagles on a national level in the 400-meter dash. Robinson went into the competition holding the 16th best time in the nation (52.81).
Focused and determined to prove herself amongst some of the best athletes in the nation, Robinson came into day one ready. She recorded a fifth-place time of 53.05 in a field of 47 participants to earn a spot in the quarterfinals the next day. Robinson continued to stun when she placed sixth in the quarterfinals with a time of 52.00, shaving more than a second off the time she recorded the day prior. Not only did she improve her time from the day before, but she also topped the Golden Eagle school record in the process while securing a spot in the coveted NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., a place where no other Golden Eagle track athlete has gone before.
Robinson ventured across the country to put her talents to the test amongst the nation's top athletes. She placed 15th overall in the semifinal race (fourth in her heat) in a field of 24 runners with a 400-meter dash time of 53.28. She bested runners from top tier schools of Maryland, Florida State, Purdue, Minnesota, Oregon, and Ohio State. Robinson completed her sophomore campaign as the only Tech women's track and field runner in school history to compete in the NCAA Championships, and will enter her junior season hungry to get back to Oregon and once again make waves.
"It is very exciting in our third year at Tennessee Tech to have our first Division I All-American in Na'Asha Robinson," head coach Wayne Angel said. "Na'Asha is only a sophomore and has a bright future ahead of her in the next two years at Tech. This is a tremendous honor and accomplishment for our program, and more importantly for Na'Asha."
With all of these accolades accumulated throughout her sophomore season, it is no surprise that the Huntsville, Ala., native was selected to the 2017 USTFCCCA Outdoor All-American second team. All Americans for the 2017 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field season were announced June 12 by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
First-team honors went to those athletes from individual events and relay teams that finished 1st through eighth, while those who finished ninth through 16th nabbed second-team billing. Honorable mention was given to those who finished 17th through 24th.
Robinson also ended her 2017 outdoor year with the top 200-meter and 400-meter time amongst OVC athletes. She becomes the 20th NCAA Division I All-American that has come from Angel-lead programs.