Lexi Lines, a 2013 graduate of Springville, poses with the “Taps Gallagher” Sportsman Award for her commitment to success on and off the field. Photo by Dave DeLuca.
Last September was the start of a new chapter for 2013 Springville graduate Lexi Lines.
Lines went away to college, became a member of a new track team and eventually, she had to revamp her entire hurdle form.
That’s okay, after all, it was a new chapter as well for Niagara University.
Lines and the Purple Eagles made program history as the first Division I women’s track and field team ever at Niagara. Competing in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Lines was a key member of the program’s first-ever recruiting class.
“It’s really cool to think about, I’m the first 100 hurdler that Niagara University has ever had,” Lines said. “When people look back on it and say ‘it all started with this group. This group set the precedent. This group set what the program is going to be like’. That’s really cool to think about.”
With Lines being the school’s first-ever athlete to run the 100 hurdles, it’s now her school record to lose. Lines owns the school record with a time of 16.77 and also runs 100s and 200s.
“Lexi is very soft spoken, very polite, but as soon as you get her near a hurdle, she becomes very aggressive,” Niagara head coach Christine Kloiber said. “She’s like ‘what do I have to do to massacre this race as easily as possible’. She’s very coachable and very dedicated.”
Lines’ patience and coachability was put to the test this season. Her times in the 100 hurdles were actually faster in high school than in college. Upon her arrival, Kloiber and hurdling coach Michelle Brutus worked with her on improving her form -- it turned into starting over from scratch.
“In high school, I got really good at what I was doing wrong,” Lines said. “In college, I have a hurdle coach, who hurdled throughout her college career and has a lot of experience. We’ve broken down my form and basically started from square one.
“It was very frustrating at first, it took a lot of time and patience. I’m not running quite as fast because everything is new to me. Hopefully in the next few years I’ll be able to get a custom to the new form and I’ll get really good at that. ”
Lines and her coaches watch video of her form and constantly critique it.
“Hurdling is very technical, it’s rhythm and timing” Kloiber said. “With Lexi, there’s a certain amount of steps and hitting your steps in terms of your takeoff and landing of the hurdles, Lexi’s were off. We needed to reset her rhythm. Resetting a rhythm that has been a habit over a number of years can be very difficult to do.
“It takes time and a lot of patience. That’s kind of what happens with a lot of freshman when it comes to track and field. We kind of take them apart a little before we build them back up.”
Lines was a three-sport standout at Springville-GI, playing volleyball as well as running indoor and outdoor track. She holds four school records -- the 55 meter, 50 meter hurdles, 100 meter hurdles and the 4x100 relay.
“College was a real eye opener because the level of intensity is a lot higher,” Lines said. “A big difference between high school and college is everyone wants to be there in college. Everyone wants to work and try harder. Nobody complains. I really liked that there was a lot of experienced and dedicated girls there.”
Along with competing with and against D-1 athletes, Lines had to adjust to the increased workload academically. During the week of the MAAC Championships, she had five final exams.
“Im sitting on the bus on a nice sunny day in between my events at the MAAC Championships studying and writing papers,” Lines laughed. “I was like ‘I have go warm up in 10 minutes, I can write another paragraph’. It was definitely tough cramming everything in, but it was worth it in the end.”
Even one of her teammates had to stop the bus because the Wifi on the bus was troubleshooting. The team stopped at the nearest Dunkin Doughnuts and her teammate sent in a paper just before deadline. Classic.
Lines carried a 3.8 GPA during the fall semester and a 4.0 during the spring semester. At seasons end, Lines was given the “Taps Gallagher” Sportsman Award for her commitment to on and off the field success. The award is given out to one individual on every Division 1 team at Niagara.
One year down, three more to go for Lines whose dream of running Division 1 track has come to fruition.
“I can now say ‘I run Division 1 track,” Lines laughed. “I never thought that would happen in my life. I never thought I’d even play a college sport and here I am running at the top. I love it.”