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Valley Sports Report
TIOGA CENTER — Tioga senior Mariah Nichols signed a National Letter-of-Intend Friday afternoon to continue her track & field career at the University of Hartford.

“I loved the academic program there, and when I met the coaches, I loved them and how much they cared for me,” she said.

“The campus is very pretty, and I loved the structure of it,” added Nichols.

Hartford is a little off the beaten path for the student-athlete in central New York, but the Internet makes for a greater number of possibilities these days.

“I was online looking at different colleges, and I found that Hartford had everything I was looking for, including track,” noted Nichols. “I went to visit the campus, and I loved it.”

Nichols, who will likely be running the 100- and 400-meter hurdles, as well as competing in the triple jump at the Division III program, knows she has some fine-tuning to do to excel at the next level.

“I need to work on my techniques that I haven’t been able to perfect here.”

Tioga track & field coach Eric Gutierrez believes Nichols, who also excelled in basketball and volleyball, will have a couple things working in her favor at the next level.

“Mariah is a very good athlete, and she takes instruction and correction very well — she is very coachable.

“Being dedicated to track is going to make a big difference for her as well,” said Gutierrez.

“Just being dedicated to track, and not playing other sports … that alone is going to drive her to a whole new level, she wouldn’t get to otherwise.

“And having a dedicated coach will help her tremendously … she’s going to have a coach dedicated to hurdles or the triple jump, and she’s going to get exactly what she needs to go to the next level,” Gutierrez added.

Gutierrez says Nichols still has some work to do, but is very close to taking a big step forward.

“We’ve been working on three steps, through the hurdles and making sure she’s able to keep the speed,” he said. “She’s getting really close … but again, as she gets to college and (track) becomes her main focus, I see her putting all the pieces together very quickly.

“She just has some little things to work on, and once they come together, she is going to be something to watch,” he added. “She’s very close now.”

Nichols, who will graduate seventh in the her class with a 99.4 GPA, will major in Exercise Science.

“I’m excited for college,” she said.  “A little nervous, but very excited.”


IN PHOTO: Tioga senior Mariah Nichols. IN PHOTO 2: Seated, from left: Shari Nichols (mother), Mariah Nichols, and Zach Nichols (brother). IN PHOTO 3: Seated, from left: Shari Nichols (mother), Mariah Nichols, and Zach Nichols (brother). Standing: Jim Walsh (left), assistant track & field coach, and Eric Gutierrez, Tioga track & field coach. ... PHOTOS BY TIM BIRNEY.

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