Reighard will pursue her love of track at St. Ambrose
Not every young athlete loves running track. Many athletes only go out for track to stay in shape for their other sports.
But Mariah Reighard has a passion for track and field. That’s why she signed a letter of intent on Tuesday afternoon to continue her track career at St. Ambrose University.
“I get [a hard time] about how much I love running,” Reighard said on Tuesday. “It’s just something I love to do. Some people love basketball, but track’s just more my thing. When I go on a run, it just feels like what I’m supposed to be doing and what I was born to do.”
Reighard, the daughter of Paul Reighard and Vicki Kean, had been looking at going to a bigger institution such as the University of Iowa or the University of Northern Iowa, but she recently decided that she would like to run track in college.
“My senior year I was kind of like, ‘Ooh, I really love track, and I want to keep pursuing a career in it,’ so I decided that bigger schools like UNI probably wouldn’t be the best fit for me,” Reighard said. “So I kind of looked at some smaller schools.”
She began looking at St. Ambrose University because her stepfather, Jeff Kean, attended the school and played football for the Bees.
“Knowing that my stepdad went there just made me feel a little more at home, I guess you could say,” Reighard said.
She also consulted with a former high school teammate and friend, Sydney Greiner, who signed to play basketball at St. Ambrose last year.
“Having someone I went to school with for three years there and knowing she really likes it is kind of nice,” Reighard said.
But Reighard didn’t just take other people’s word for it. She visited St. Ambrose and felt that the Davenport school was a good fit. She plans to major in elementary education at St. Ambrose.
“It was just one of those things where you go and it just feels like your second home,” she said. “Like your home away from home. Something just clicked about it. I kind of just fell in love with it right when I got there.”
Meanwhile, St. Ambrose head women’s track and field coach Dan Tomlin welcomed the opportunity to sign an athlete of Reighard’s caliber.
“Obviously her talent and her times speak for themselves,” he said.
As a freshman, Reighard was a member of Washington’s 4x800 relay that qualified for the Drake Relays and the state meet, as well as a member of a state qualifying 4x400 relay. As a junior, Reighard was a member of a 4x400 relay team that qualified for the Drake Relays, won a Southeast Conference title and qualified for state. And last season Reighard was a member of Washington’s state qualifying 4x400 relay team.
Reighard has continued to improve as a senior. The Demons’ 4x400 relay team took first place at the Demon Relays on April 4 and at the Falcon Co-Ed Relays in West Burlington on April 6, and the squad ran a season-best time of 4:10.19 at the Pen City Relays in Fort Madison on April 9. Reighard also ran a 2:29 anchor leg in the 4x800 relay at the Pen City Relays.
“Every single time she’s out it’s a personal best, it seems like, lately,” Washington head girls’ track and field coach Stefanie Tschantz said.
Tschantz added that Reighard will continue to improve when track and field is her only focus.
“Considering every time out she’s running personal bests right now, her times are going to drop significantly,” Tschantz said. “I think she’ll do great. It’s just great to see her go on to the next level. She’s worked hard and she deserves it.”
Tomlin said that Reighard could make an immediate impact for the Bees next season. He expects she’ll be a member of St. Ambrose’s 4x400 and 4x800 relays.
“She’s going to be a really nice piece to what we do,” he said. “We’ve got a 4x800 relay that was all freshmen that was top 20 in the country during the indoor season, and she’s faster than two of those four legs. She’ll be a significant freshman next year, which isn’t always the case with freshmen.”
Reighard has a goal to make some noise right away.
“I’m hoping to make it to nationals my freshman year,” she said.