Sports

Toussaint Leaps into Record Books

When Mariah Toussaint, a senior multi-position Track and Field star, made the decision to transfer to Monmouth for her junior year, she naturally experienced some apprehension and anxiety.

"When I first transferred I was a little shy and nervous," explained Toussaint. "I had never been to such a big school and I didn't know where I would belong."

Coming from her hometown of Tulsa, OK, Toussaint spent her first two college years at Midland University in Freemont, NB, and before that attended Brooke Point High School in Stafford, VA. Midland's enrollment averages just over 1,100 students while slightly over 1,700 students attend Brooke Point annually. When you compare this to the nearly 7,000 students at Monmouth, and take into account the vast difference in location, it is easy to see why Toussaint felt some uneasiness.

Despite her initial trepidation of meeting new people, finding her place and getting accustomed to a new area and culture, there was one place that always felt like home, and took no getting used to: the track.

"Track and Field is just something that makes me happy," said Toussaint. "It is just something I really enjoy, and I always go out there and have fun."

Toussaint's comfort in all areas of track and field was evident from her first day at MU, as she found immediate success at her new school. In her first year as a Hawk, Toussaint was named the 2013 Northeastern Conferences Indoor Women's Most Valuable Performer, and also earned spots on the NEC's Indoor Women's All Conference First Team for the 200 meter and long jump. To finish out her first year, Toussaint was named to the NEC's Outdoor All Conference First Team for long jump.

Now in her second year at the University, Toussaint has continued to thrive. She has earned multiple Performer of the Week Awards, was a 2014 All-East selection for the long jump, and recorded a personal best 20' 8" mark in the long jump at the Blue/White Invitational.

In addition to being a career best, this jump turned out to be truly special for Toussaint because it was the 10th longest jump in the nation, and, as a result, Toussaint became the first MU athlete to qualify for the NCAA Women's Indoor Track and Field Championships. Toussaint didn't stop at just qualifying; however, as her 19'8" long jump at the event was good enough to earn her a spot as a second team All-American.

Track and Field head coach Joe Compagni said he, along with the rest of the team, was very proud of Toussaint, and was quick to point out the magnitude of her feat. "Qualifying for this meet with the best of the best from 300+ Division I schools, and earning All-American Honors, is a very difficult task," explained Compagni. "Her efforts cap off arguably our best season of Indoor Track."

Trying to decide where this milestone ranks among the rest of her accolades and accomplishments is extremely difficult, and completely speculative, but Toussaint herself didn't hesitate in saying it was at the top of the list.

"My proudest moment was the day I qualified for indoor nationals. I got first place in all four of my events (High Jump, Long Jump, 200 meter, and 60 meter) and broke the long jump record after not having jumped for about three months," Toussaint explained. "It feels fantastic to be the first to qualify because no one else has done that before, and I know that I will be a part of Monmouth Track and Field History. I never thought I could be a Division I All-American, but being named one feels like I've accomplished a huge goal."

The amount of success Toussaint has had to this point in her career may lead some to believe that she's been training and competing for most of her life, but this isn't the case. In fact, Toussaint has only been a part of track and field since her senior year of high school.

Although she lacks the amount experience her competitors may have, Toussaint more than makes up for it through desire and personal motivation.

"I always go out there and give everything I have because I am not only competing for me, but also for my team, family, friends, boyfriend, God, and everyone else that believes in me," said Toussaint. "I believe I have a gift, and to waste it would be useless."

As another motivating and guiding factor, Toussaint will often look to some of her athletic idols. "Wilma Rudolph, Flo-Jo, and Allyson Felix are my three biggest role models," she explained. "They are very prevalent athletes in the world of track and field, but are also great people outside the sport. They exemplify dignity, teamwork, compassion, and strength of mind."

These various motivators continue to push Toussaint to not be content with what she has accomplished so far and feed her desire to set and attain larger goals.

"For this outdoor season I want to break the 200 meter and long jump record," Toussaint elaborated. "I also want to go to outdoor Nationals for the first and final round in long jump, and hit personal bests in all of my events."

Toussaint isn't just expecting a lot of herself this coming spring. She also has high expectations for the team as a whole. "For the team I hope for a lot of personal bests, for us to be undefeated at home the entire season, to win the conference championships, and just continue to be spirited and passionate for our meets."

Toussaint's goals do not just focus on her remaining time at the University, and while she may have started competing late she doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon. According to Toussaint, she plans on continuing her track and field career after she graduates this May, and is preparing to try out for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.

Lofty goals like these show just how determined Toussaint is to be great. Fittingly, the motto "We Will" used by the MU track and field team may best define this determination. According to Toussaint, this motto is used to create and describe a team oriented mindset because it focuses on the 'We.'

"It is basically saying and showing that there are no single champions on the team, but rather everyone as a whole contributes to all of our wins and triumphs."

While it may be used to exemplify the importance of team, this saying can certainly be applied to Toussaint individually. It describes her desire to be the best she can possibly be, and her belief that "She Will" be successful in attaining all of her future aspirations.

For an individual who felt some uneasiness before arriving at MU, Toussaint has certainly accomplished an enormous amount, and has definitely built a resume that will be remembered for years to come.

Although she has been here for less than two years, there is no question that Toussaint has earned the respect and admiration of all those she's built relationships with. Compagni may have summed up Toussaint's time and impact at th University best when he simply said, "She's been tremendous for the program. We wish we had her for more than two years, but she's certainly made the most of those two years, for sure."

With one outdoor season still remaining in her college career, it's safe to say Toussaint will only continue to build her legacy.