COURTESY PHOTO BY UMASS BOSTON ATHLETICS
BY JOSHUA KUMMINS
Lynn’s Hulerie McGuffie set high expectations for the conclusion of her track and field career at UMass Boston.
Going out on a high note is one thing. The way McGuffie went out is quite another.
The Classical alum truly saved her best for last, winning her second NCAA Division III national championship of the academic year with a historic finish in the 400-meter dash outdoors May 28.
“Especially since after indoor nationals, then I knew it was possible (to win a national championship),” said McGuffie, who finishes her outstanding career as a nine-time All-American. “Then, there was nothing I wanted more than having both indoor and outdoor titles.”
McGuffie’s time of 53.55 seconds set a stadium record at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, and is now the second-fastest ever recorded in the 400. However, she fell just shy of the NCAA all-time record (53.45) that fellow Beacon Genesia Eddins set in 1988.
Most athletes tend to block out milestones such as that, but it was on McGuffie’s mind.
“For four years,” she said. “I was always reminded about it.”
Before winning the indoor title in late March, McGuffie had posted a pair of second-place finishes and one third-place finish in the 400-meter dash during her NCAA career.
McGuffie ― named the Little East Conference Field Athlete of the Year before her NCAA finale ― is a national meet veteran, but definitely felt the nerves as she took to the starting line for the final time as a collegian.
“The nerves were more than 10 times more than any nationals I’ve been to, because I knew it was the last one,” McGuffie said. “I knew after this, that was it.”
The script could not have been written any better for McGuffie in her final championship as no other competitor finished within one second of her during the entire weekend. Her title came after a 54.55-second preliminary run the day prior, then the fastest time in the Division III ranks.
“It was definitely a special moment, right before I ran, knowing it would be my last time running for UMass Boston,” McGuffie said. “It was basically ‘go big or go home,’ so I gave it my all and I’m really happy how it turned out. Even though I didn’t get the record, I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Sixth-year head coach Consandria Walker echoed the same sentiments, noticing an increased confidence in McGuffie over the course of the season.
Walker knew her standout senior had what it took to reach the top of the podium for the second time in as many seasons, but seeing that confidence in McGuffie made it sink in even more.
“There was no doubt she could do it,” Walker said. “I needed her to believe she could do it also. Once she believed that, the results showed.”
The weekend was not a complete high, however, as McGuffie finished 12th in the preliminary 200-meter race. From there, Walker was able to help put the focus back on the 400, a race in which both knew they wanted to see results.
“The 200-meter the day before didn’t go well, so I was glad I was there to kind of get her back focused on the 400 because we knew going in we needed to leave with that one,” Walker said. “When the 200 didn’t go well, she was kind of down on herself. But then she ran really well.”
This time of year was an emotional one for McGuffie as a special, early graduation ceremony was held for her during the annual UMBYs, UMass Boston’s student-athlete awards ceremony, on May 11.
McGuffie was unable to walk with her class during UMB’s Commencement at TD Garden, which was held on the same day as her preliminary 400-meter run.
It was an especially difficult decision for McGuffie to choose running the championship meet over Commencement as she is the first in her family to graduate from college.
“I will forever be grateful to UMass Boston for that. It was amazing,” McGuffie said of the ceremony. “You work four years to get that diploma. You work four years for the ceremony and to walk and get that diploma. Missing that, it just didn’t feel real knowing I was graduating. … But that ceremony was just amazing.”
Names and notes
- Peabody’s Brandon Bingel, Saugus’ Buck McCarthy and the Bryant University baseball team saw their season come to an end in the NCAA Charlottesville Regional over the weekend. McCarthy drove in a run in the Bulldogs’ 4-3 loss to William & Mary Saturday, while Bingel struck out four over five innings in defeat. Bryant finished the season with a 47-12 record, setting a school record for victories.
- Ben Bowden’s Vanderbilt team suffered the same fate, dropping a pair of games as it hosted the regional round in Nashville. The Lynn native junior did not appear in either contest and finishes the year with 10 saves, two wins and a 3.51 ERA.
- Peabody’s Austin Batchelor has a front-row seat in Boston College’s march to the NCAA Division 1 baseball super regionals. The BC freshman, a Malden Catholic graduate, is on the team, though he didn’t see any action this spring. Batchelor knows a thing or two about high-pressure tournaments, though. He was on the Peabody Western Little League team that made it to Williamsport, Penn., in 2009.