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McMinn Embracing Spotlight at ACC Indoors

By Christy Cabrera Chirinos
HurricaneSports.com
 
CORAL GABLES, Fla. –
She posted a meet-record time in her first hurdles race of the year.
 
Three weeks later, she tied her personal best, notched one of the top times in the country, tied her own Miami record, earned recognition as the Atlantic Coast Conference Track Athlete of the Week and served notice she was again, going to be a force to be reckoned with this season.
 
It’s been, for Tiara McMinn, an impressive start to the year.
 
Now, as she and the Hurricanes head to this week’s ACC Indoor Championships in South Bend, the junior is welcoming the spotlight she’ll likely find herself in as a defending champion and is embracing the fact her competitors will have her in their sights.
 
“I’ve always come in wanting to hit personal bests, not every meet, but every time I run. I have really high expectations for myself. I don’t like to be average,” McMinn said. “Every race I go into, I look to see who is the top competitor I’m going against and I put myself in the position where I can think about what I want to do. … Knowing people want to beat me is pretty fun. It’s a good compliment. And it brings a lot of fire. It’s motivation for me to run faster.”
 
For McMinn – who will compete in the 60-meter hurdles, 60-meter dash and multiple relay events – finding excellence on the track is nothing new.
 
Her introduction to the sport came when she was a toddler, with her mother Teresa – a former track standout herself – encouraging her to run.
 
But it wasn’t until Tiara McMinn arrived at Miami’s Jackson High that she came into her own.
 
By the time she graduated, she’d won Florida state championships in the 100-meter hurdles, the 300-meter hurdles and the high jump. She finished her high school career ranked eighth nationally in the high jump and 10th in the 300m hurdles and arrived at Miami hoping to add to her hometown university’s storied track tradition.
 
By the end of her sophomore season, she’d managed to do exactly that.
 
Last year, McMinn won the ACC indoor title when she posted a 7.95 in the 60-meter hurdles. Her time was not only a personal best, but it tied the nation’s second-fastest time and set a Miami record in the event.
 
But at nationals, McMinn stumbled after a pair of mishaps at the starting line. While she’d go on to put together a strong outdoor season that included multiple All-American honors and an ACC championship as part of the Hurricanes 4×100 relay team, the loss at indoor nationals stayed with her.
 
It’s provided motivation ever since, motivation McMinn expects to draw on this week as she and her teammates – including thrower Debbie Ajagbe, sprinters Alfreda Steele, Jacious Sears, Brittny Ellis and pole vaulter Molly Caudery – all look to compete for conference titles.
 
“I’ve been working on my speed work, working on my start to try and get better over the first hurdle,” McMinn said of her preparation for the championship meet. “I’m really looking to have a personal best and run under 7.9 [seconds].”
 
Her coach believes McMinn can accomplish that – and more.
 
“I think she’ll show leadership this year and I think she’s very focused to help the team any way she can,” said Amy Deem, the Hurricanes Director of Track and Field and Cross Country. “I just saw some things in her when she was in high school and felt like the sky was the limit for her. … It’s been fun to watch her growth even off the track as much as on the track. … I’ve enjoyed the process with her very much.”