After visiting several schools, Xerina Hughey felt good about her decision when she made a verbal commitment to accept a track and field scholarship from Miami University in January.

After visiting several schools, Xerina Hughey felt good about her decision when she made a verbal commitment to accept a track and field scholarship from Miami University in January.

When Cincinnati matched Miami's offer a few weeks later, though, the Hilliard Darby High School senior changed her mind and made a verbal commitment to the Bearcats.

Yet, when Hughey called Miami hurdles coach Drew Towne to rescind her previous commitment to the RedHawks, he pleaded with her to take another visit to Miami before signing with Cincinnati.

After talking to Miami head coach Kelly Phillips and a couple of the RedHawks' athletes, Hughey spent the next three weeks agonizing over her decision.

Just a couple days before signing day, Hughey finally made up her mind, and in February, she signed a national letter of intent to attend Miami.

"I kept going back and forth because they both are great schools with incredible coaching staffs," said Hughey, who has a 3.7 cumulative GPA. "In the end, I decided that I could get a better education at Miami, and that's why I made my decision."

Under the direction of then-coach Rita Arndt-Molis, the RedHawks scored 95.5 points to finish fourth in the Mid-American Conference Outdoor Championships last year, behind champion Akron (147).

In Phillips' first season, Miami finished fourth (79.5) in the MAC Indoor Championship meet on Feb. 27, behind champion Kent State (107).

"Xerina is a very strong athlete and I think she's going to continue to mature and run faster in college," Darby coach Don Seymour said. "She's one of the top hurdlers in the state and she's just beginning to scratch the surface of her abilities."

After taking a season off from track to focus on her studies, Hughey placed fourth in the 300-meter hurdles (44.38 seconds) in the Division I state meet as a sophomore.

Last year, Hughey finished fifth in the 300 hurdles (44.33) and sixth in the 100 hurdles (14.78) at state.

Hughey also was the lead runner on Darby's 800 relay that finished 10th (1:43.77) at state.

"I'm going to do the best I can to try to make it on top of the podium in the 300 hurdles at state this year," she said.

Hughey is hoping she can be competitive in the MAC, but said academics will be her primary focus.

After doing volunteer work at Children's Hospital a year ago, Hughey is planning on pursuing a career in the medical field.

"It would be nice if I can be noticed in the MAC conference the same way I'm noticed at Darby," she said. "The most important thing for me is I want to study medicine, because I want to work in a hospital after I graduate."