Dover HIgh School senior Jamila Hayes signed her letter of intent Feb. 18 to attend and run track and field for the University of Maryland, Baltimore County next year, where she will major in business in pursuit of a law degree.

For the second consecutive year, a Dover High School student-athlete in track and field has committed to run at the collegiate level for the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Jamila Hayes, 17, a senior at Dover, signed her letter of intent to attend UMBC and run track for the school, following in the footsteps of Dover grads Aristotle Johnson and Sarah Murphy, a freshman and senior, respectively.

While Hayes said she’s excited about the opportunity to run in college, the athletics were not the deciding factor in her choice.

“I really liked the campus and the environment,” she said. “I went on tours to the classrooms and stuff and it felt like a place where I could fit in. It felt like home.”

That said, Hayes added that she is expecting to do big things in her freshman year, especially in her top events, the 200- and 400-meter races.

After all the time she’s put into becoming a better runner as a Senator, she said she’s learned to set big goals for herself.

“My freshman year I want to place in the top five of my conference and just try and make my times go down,” Hayes said. “I just want to place, do well, and run hard because I worked really hard to get here and I don’t want it to go to waste.”

James Solomon, head coach at Dover High, said Hayes will bring a tremendous amount of leadership to UMBC, and that she embodies exactly what the Senators try to represent.

In his opinion, with UMBC ranking as one of the top academic schools on the east coast, Solomon said Hayes is a great example that the Dover track program is not all about the sport.

“She has continued a tradition that really endorses our program as being truly about a student-athlete,” he said. “Our program is not out to prep kids just for the athletic part of it. We really focus on the academics and Jamila has been at the forefront of representing that.”

Solomon added he strives to coach students to the point of having collegiate opportunities, a program that’s proven successful for him.

“We’ve done very well following this model of creating student-athletes,” he said. “Being a coach and an educator, just focusing on the athletics would be contradicting the true sense of the student-athlete.”

With her college decision now behind her, Hayes said she could turn her focus to the upcoming track and field season for the Senators.

She said it was nice to get signing day over with, because she has big goals that need her full athletic attention this spring.

“It’s a relief to get the college thing out of the way because now it’s crunch time,” Hayes said. “We’re going into a really competitive season, and now I can just focus on winning conferences, placing in states and hopefully winning states.”

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