In her final sprint of what was a record-setting track-and-field career at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Hulerie McGuffie delivered one last burst of speed with an exclamation point. Entering the last straightaway of the 400-meter race last month at Wartburg College, the Lynn Classical graduate pulled ahead of Greenville College’s Chelsea Gilles on her way to the Division 3 title. Her time of 53.55 seconds was the second-fastest time in D3 history, set by UMass Boston’s Genesia Eddins in 1988. It was her ninth All-America honor running for the Beacons. And her title also took care of some unfinished business: she was the runner-up in the race a year ago. McGuffie graduated last month with a degree in psychology.
Q. What was it like running that final race?
A. I was definitely nervous. [UMass Boston coach Consandria Walker] told me to go out there one last time and whatever happens, happens. I was in the nationals for four years and I didn’t want to let it bother me. There were a lot of the same people in the race from the indoors and outdoors championships so I knew what I was getting into and knew what I wanted to do. But I was still nervous. I’m always nervous.
Q. How long do you stay nervous?
A. As soon as the gun goes off, I’m fine. I remember at the trials I thought, ‘I have to get out harder in the first 200 meters,’ and I was thinking about that when I was coming off the blocks. After that, it all got pretty close at the end and I had a lot of adrenaline left, I guess, and just kept going.
Q. When did you know just how good a run it was?
A. I knew I was coming in faster than usual and just finishing strong. I knew it was good and strong, but I didn’t think it was that fast. But you know the field in the race and you know the competition is there.
Q. How do you race the 400?
A. I think I’m probably a better finisher and tend to hold it all until the end.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you have received from a coach?
A. Coach Walker tells me I have to be aggressive. I think that helps a lot, knowing I can’t go out there and be shy. I have to want to go for it. Through the years I think I’ve improved a lot at that. You have to have confidence, that’s for sure. I tend to overthink everything and you can’t go into a race thinking bad things are going to happen. You have to have a good mind-set.
Q. Do you get to talk to Genesia Eddins often?
A. She came to see a couple of my runs and she’d sometimes come to practice. She’s around and she’s so nice. She’d have some encouraging words and say I’m doing good things. Just hearing that from her and knowing her times and what she used to do in running was like a nice pep talk.
Q. How did you decide on psychology as a major?
A. I started out as a biology major, but my heart wasn’t in it. I took a psychology class that I really liked and I thought it would be interesting to learn about the mind and why people do things. I always wanted to help people and I think maybe being a social worker is a way I can help people. I feel it will be a good field for me. It’s something I’m passionate about.
ALLEN LESSELSAllen Lessels can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.