MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - On March 12, 2020, Memphis weight thrower DeeNia McMiller and track and field head coach Kevin Robinson stepped off a plane in New Mexico for the 2020 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.
“Pretty much just got right off the plane, didn’t even get my bags yet and they just told us it was canceled,” McMiller remembered.
“We were just kind of standing there not knowing what to do,” Robinson added. “We were shocked, disappointed, heartbroken,” when they learned the championships were canceled because of COVID-19.
McMiller and Robinson talked about competing in the NCAA Championships for several years. When they were so close and it was taken away, they wanted it even more.
“I had to come back this year and come back a lot stronger and I had to come back harder than I usually do,” McMiller said. “I know I had a limited amount of time that I had to get the weights I needed to be throwing right, and the measurements I need to be throwing where I needed them to be exactly.”
In a normal year, McMiller would compete in five or six indoor meets to qualify for NCAAs. This year she only competed in two.
“I put pressure on myself like I need to throw good because I don’t have time to mess up or get another chance to throw,” she said.
According to Robinson, “She caught a pretty solid throw in the last throw at her first meet so there was a glimmer. We went to the last meet and it took a few throws to get rolling, and then we hit the finals and she had three back-to-back-to-back 22 meter throws which is back to where she finished last year.”
22.77 meters to be exact. The fourth best mark in the NCAA. It also broker her own school record. Miller wrote on Instagram, “Coronavirus stole my ending.” A year later, she is rewriting it as she heads back to the NCAA Championships.
“Dee walks into the first national competition of her life as a legitimate favorite,” Robinson said. “She’s one of the best there is.”
McMiller competes in the weight throw Thursday, March 11.