EUGENE, Ore. – Dakota Dailey-Harris narrowly missed out on scoring for her team at the 2014 ACC Outdoor Championships.
The sophomore cleared 1.75m on April 19, her best jump through that point in the 2014 outdoor season. But Dailey-Harris placed ninth in the women’s high jump, just one spot away from scoring for the Hurricanes.
“Even though I jumped better than I had been that day, I was still upset that I didn’t score,” Dailey-Harris said. “But my teammates and coaches helped pick me up and they helped motivate me to get better from that day.”
In her next competition, the LSU Invitational on May 3, Dailey-Harris set a new personal-best. Her mark of 1.80m proved to the gifted jumper that she could elevate herself to unprecedented heights. It also moved her into second place in University of Miami history and helped secure her spot in the NCAA East Preliminary.
A week ago at the NCAA East Preliminary in Jacksonville, Dailey-Harris emerged from a jump off to secure one of the 12 coveted spots advancing to Oregon from the East in the women’s high jump.
“At first I didn’t believe it,” Dailey-Harris said. “Coming from a jump off, I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I am glad I got one of the last spots to make it in.”
Dailey-Harris is one of 10 Canes in Eugene this week for the NCAA Championships. Miami will have student-athletes competing in the 100m, 400m, 800m, pole vault, high jump, discus, hammer throw and the 4x400m relay. A year ago, the Hurricanes had just one student-athlete reach nationals, jumper Samantha Williams.
“These last couple of years, we haven’t been so great compared to what we have done in the past,” Dailey-Harris said. “But this year has been our comeback year and we are only going to get better.”
While her team has developed, so has Dailey-Harris. Her top outdoor mark a year ago was 1.72m, but she has raised the bar to 1.80m and has the confidence to continue striving for better marks.
“The transition from last year and not even making it to regionals to reaching nationals this year has been a great experience,” Dailey-Harris said. “It’s helped boost my confidence a lot.”
Beyond her determination to get better, Dailey-Harris also credits Miami jumps coach Jerel Langley for helping her become a national qualifier in his first season in Coral Gables.
“We’ve had a lot of different coaches, but now Coach L is here and that’s given us some stability as a jumps squad,” Dailey-Harris said. “We work well together and he has helped me a lot. He had can be big kid sometimes, but he is very serious when he needs to be. He knows how to have fun, but also when to come down on us when we need it.”
A year ago, Dailey-Harris placed fifth in the women’s high jump at the U.S. Junior Championships. She closed out the 2013 season with her best outdoor mark of the year, 1.75m. Now a sophomore, Dailey-Harris believes her strong showing at U.S. Juniors a year ago will help her be more confident in her first NCAA Championships.
“Being on a stage like USA Juniors last year definitely helped prepare me for this,” Dailey-Harris said. “I have never jumped at an NCAA national event, so getting used to that is going to be the biggest change for me.”
Despite having a positive outlook heading into this week’s meet, Dailey-Harris knows she will be up against the best competition she has ever faced.
“I don’t know what to expect,” Dailey-Harris said. “I know it will be a bigger stage, much bigger than any I have ever been on. I don’t jump until Saturday, but I am prepared to do well. The fact that I am going on the last day helps me get comfortable at the meet.”
Dailey-Harris and the rest of the women’s high jumpers are scheduled to compete Saturday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Once the final bar has been cleared, Dailey-Harris hopes to have achieved her goal heading into Oregon.
“I am trying to be an All-American,” Dailey-Harris said. “That’s my goal, not only this week, but in years to come. I am trying to make an impact for Miami track and field. Representing “The U” is an unbelievable experience and being able to do that at a national level is an unbelievable feeling.”
For all the latest information on the Miami Hurricanes, follow the official Twitter feed, @MiamiHurricanes, or "Like Us" on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/MiamiHurricanes. Follow @MiamiTrack on Twitter for specific news on UM track and field and cross country. The program is also on Instagram.