DaJour Miles Looking to Pick Up Third Straight Title At AAU Junior Olympic Games


By Johanna Gretschel, FloTrack l Link

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If you could see inside DaJour Miles' bedroom, you'd get a sneak peek at the inner mental workings of a track star.

On the walls are motivational quotes: "I Can, I Will, End Of Story" and "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." There are layers of sticky notes with time objectives for various events -- when one objective is met, another goes on top. Right now, those Post-its read "53.5" and "23."

But all those goals are secondary to Miles' main motivation: winning her third consecutive 400m title next week in Ypsilanti, Michigan, at the AAU Junior Olympic Games. Miles says it's a feat that will be even tougher than the Illinois state title she won in May, partly due to the lingering injuries she's suffered in her hamstring and hip flexor.

"In the 400m, I want to three-peat. I know it's gonna be tough competition so I gotta keep training," she told FloTrack over the phone.

Miles, who turns 16 this week, also goes by "Cinnamon," a nickname coined by her mother. She's had an interesting journey in the sport of track and field. Before entering high school, she was nationally competitive in the 100m, 200m, and 400m with times of 11.9, 24.10, and 54.08. She won two AAU Junior Olympic Games titles in the 200m and 400m. As a freshman she didn't compete in the Illinois prep season because of a disagreement with her coach at Waubonsie Valley High School. Instead, she continued to train with her Aurora Flyers track club coach Thomas Boatright.

WATCH AAU JUNIOR OLYMPIC GAMES LIVE ON FLOTRACK

This year, Miles transferred from Waubonsie Valley to West Aurora High School, where she played basketball during the winter and competed in track for the first time on the Illinois high school circuit in the spring.

Her body didn't always cooperate. Immediately after the end of basketball season, the sophomore traveled to the University of Kentucky High School Invitational, one of the nation's top indoor track events, and won the 400m and placed seventh in the 200m with near-PB times of 24.56 and 54.25. But a hamstring strain sustained at an event at the Mustang Relays prevented her from completing the indoor season.

After some rest, outdoor season went fairly smoothly until she attempted to quadruple in the 4x100m, 100m, 200m, and 400m at the Illinois state meet. Her team, West Aurora, had state team title hopes if Miles could pull off all four events.

"I hurt my hip flexor in the 100m," she said. "And in the prelim of the 200m, it hurt more when I sprinted."

Miles placed ninth in the 100m prelims, coming up short of the final, and fourth in the 200m. She opted to skip that final to focus on her primary event -- the 400m -- where she faced University of Iowa commit Kylie Welch, a senior from Bloomington High and the defending state champion.

Emotions were running high before the state final.

"I was kinda scared I wouldn't finish. My leg was really bothering me but I didn't want to let West Aurora down," she said. "I was scared of not winning because the people on the intercom were like, 'DaJour Miles is a national champion,' and I didn't want to let anybody down."

Welch got out quick and held a lead at the 150m mark, but Miles kept her composure and closed the gap at 200m, holding on for the win in 54.75 over Welch's 55.50.

"My coaches had to help me off the track and get me help from the athletic trainers," she said. "I went on the podium and I felt good. I felt relieved and I was very happy I got it done with at my first state meet ever."

But even the adrenaline rush of winning her first state title can't compare to winning a national title at the AAU Junior Olympic Games. It was that setting where she set her personal best at 53.98 last summer.

"It's nothing like nationals," she said of the Illinois state meet. "Nationals is more hype, more people, more competition, more heats."

Correction: A previous version of this story said Miles injured her hamstring in Lexington. She suffered that injury at the Mustang Relays. 

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