AKRON, Ohio - Over the years, collegiate sports and the tremendous student-athletes that fuel its passion, desire and sportsmanship have been defined by the moments of character and achievement both on and off the field of competition.
For University of Akron senior Daziah Green (Canton, Ohio) her final moment on the track as a Zip came at this past weekend's Mid-American Conference Track and Field Championship in Kalamazoo, Mich.
Green came into the conference meet owning the top marks in the MAC in 2017 in the 100 and 200 meters and a favorite to win her first-ever league title. She didn't disappoint in the preliminary rounds posting the top time in the 100 (11.68) meters, while running the second-fastest time (23.75) in the 200 meters.
Green began final-day competition running the second leg of the women's 4x100 relay squad that crossed the finish line in 45.85 to place third.
She got off to a strong start in the finals of the 100 meters as the race came down to a photo finish between Green, Peyton Stewart of Ball State and Kedisha Dallas of Northern Illinois. Each of the three competitors wanted the title badly and gave that extra championship effort at the line to attempt to get their respective squads valuable championship points.
In the process, Green fell across the finish line and landed hard on her left wrist and arm, a tumble that fractured her arm. She was unable to get the victory as first through third place was decided by a mere two one-hundredths of a second. Stewart won the race with a time of 11.55 and was trailed by Dallas and Green with times of 11.56 and 11.57, respectively.
The Zips' medical team was immediately on the scene to help Green and identify the extent of her injury.
With less than two hours until the start of the 200-meter final, there arose a dilemma for Green, who had qualified for the eight-women final that was to be run at 4:25 p.m. The top-eight finishers in the event earned at least a point towards the team race, so should she go to the hospital to get her arm examined or could she possibly run in the 200 meters for Akron.
Green chose the latter as the team-first mantra of the Zips permeated giving everything one had towards the team's success. No one could have faulted Green for forgoing the race, where all she had to do was finish to earn a point, but she displayed the tenacity and sportsmanship to persevere and compete in the race.
Competing was easier said than done as runners are required a certain amount of contact with the starting line for a legal starting position. With her left arm bandaged up, Green was able to get off a good start and ran with conviction around the corner and through the straight away and soared across the line in 32.68. The time was well off her qualifying time, but it earned her the admiration and respect of her teammates for even attempting to race.
The meaning of that single point proved invaluable as it gave the Zips 127 team points and an 18.5 point lead over second-place Kent State (108.5 points) and a 30-point cushion against Eastern Michigan (97 points) with two events remaining.
Akron didn't have any competitors in the women's 5,000 meters, which is a stronghold for the Eagles, so every point mattered. Eastern Michigan came out and dominated the women's 5,000 meters earning first, third and sixth place, to move within 11 points of the Zips' lead in the team competition.
With a maximum of 10 points awarded to the winner of the women's 4x400 relay, Akron on the strength of Green's tenacity and perseverance was guaranteed a team title. A mainstay on the 4x400 relay for the Zips all season, Akron needed to readjust its line-up for the event in Green's absence.
Kent State went on to win the women's 4x400 relay, followed by Eastern Michigan in second, while the Zips earned a point with an eighth-place effort. The final team scoring had Akron owning 128 points, followed by the Eagles with 124 and the Golden Flashes with 118.5.
Had Green not put the pain aside and raced there would have been only a 10-point margin between the Zips and Eagles meaning there remained a potential for a co-championship between Akron and Eastern Michigan.
The lesson in the events that unfolded on a track in Kalamazoo, Mich., are to never underestimate the heart of a champion and make no mistake, Daziah Green is a champion and a Forever A Zip.