Former Monroe star, three-time Herald Player of the Year and nine-time GHSA state champion Mimi Land competes during an indoor meet for Clemson earlier this season. Land has soared since arriving in South Carolina and was recently named the ACC’s Track & Field Freshman of the Year, becoming the third Lady Tiger in four years to garner the honor. (Rex Brown/ IPTAY Media)
CLEMSON, S.C. — Mimieux Land is soaring.
She’s at it again, flying high, rising above everyone around her in a land all her own.
Only this time the Monroe grad is doing it at Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference, where Land was just named the ACC’s Indoor Track & Field Freshman of the Year.
“I was shocked when I found out,’’ Land told The Herald by telephone Monday. “When (my teammate Brianna Rollins) told me, I didn’t believe it. I thought she was kidding. I didn’t even know they had a Freshman of the Year award for indoor track. Everyone was pretty excited.’’
But no one who knows Land is surprised.
She won nine individual state titles while leading Monroe to four consecutive team state titles before heading for Clemson, and she has made the adjustment to college life and Division I track & field better than anyone could have imagined.
“A lot of people come in with ability, but they can’t focus when they get to college. But she can,’’ said Chris Bostwick, who is the assistant women’s track & field coach at Clemson in charge of the jumping events. “It’s difficult. There’s a lot to adapt to, but I have seen the maturation progress with her already.’’
Land, who was a three-time Herald Player of the Year in track & field in high school, surprised Bostwick and the Clemson coaches by competing in three events in the indoor season, and she excelled in each.
She finished third in the ACC Championship meet in the long jump, fourth in the high jump and eighth in the triple jump. But what pleased Land the most is that she had personal-bests in all three events.
Land, who became the second straight Clemson track athlete to win the honor and third in the last four years, went 6.18 meters (20 feet and 3 inches) in the long jump, and had a personal best of 12.45 meters (40 feet and 11 inches) in the triple jump and cleared 1.82 meters (5-feet, 11 1/2 inches — a Clemson freshman record) in the high jump.
“My goal was to clear six feet in the high jump,’’ said Land, who barely missed qualifying for the NCAA nationals. “I want to get 6-feet (this spring).’’
The Top 16 in the country qualified for the indoor nationals, and Land’s high jump of 1.82 meters was just shy of making the cut — 1.83 was the 16th-best in the nation and Land’s jump left her just outside the bubble at 17th.
“She just missed qualifying for the nationals, and that should motivate her even more,’’ Bostwick said.
Land has always been a self-motivator, and her high school coaches often said: “No one expects more from Mimi than Mimi.’’
They’re still saying it.
“That’s Mimi,’’ said Paul Jones, who coached Land since she was 10 years old as member of the Albany Ruff Riders track club and later coached her as an assistant coach at Monroe. “Nobody pushes themselves as much as Mimi. She is always looking for a challenge, and when she got to college, I’m sure she loved that challenge. She will thrive the better the competition is. I’m not surprised (she won the ACC Freshman of the Year award). I’m not surprised at all because that’s Mimi.’’
Clemson knew when Land signed with the Tigers that she was special, but her instant success — if not a surprise — was still impressive.
“She jumped right into it — no pun intended,’’ Bostwick said. “It’s a quite a feat to win the Freshmen of the Year award and to do so well (in the ACC Championship meet). Most freshmen will compete in one or two events, and she competed in three and has handled everything we have given her real well.’’
Bostwick said there is no limit to how high Land can sail.
“She has shown she has the ability, and she is very determined and a very hard worker,’’ he said. “Where she is right now you can see the progression, and by the time she is a senior she could be one of the best in the country. I think she is ahead of her time. I think she will get there before she is a senior.
“There are two key ingredients, and she has both,’’ he added. “First you have to have the drive to be the best, and she certainly has that. She’s very determined and works hard. And No. 2, you have to have the ability and she has that.’’
Land has always had high expectations and has always demanded more of herself than anyone else. That hasn’t changed at Clemson.
“She has lofty goals,’’ Bostwick said. “We’ve talked about her goals. She wants to win numerous ACC titles. She wants to be one of the best in the country, and when all is said and done, she wants to be an Olympian. A lot of people have those goals. She has the ability to do it.’’
Bostwick believes in Land’s future.
“I do (think she will accomplish her overall goals),’’ Bostwick said. “It will take a lot of work and it will take a lot of tenacity, but she definitely has the ability.’’
Land has come so far so quickly at Clemson and admits it was an adjustment, especially at first when school started last fall.
“The first semester I had to get used to everything, going to practice and going to class, but the second semester was much better,’’ she said. “It’s different competition. In high school, it was easy to predict where I would finish, but in college everyone is a state champion.’’
She has always had the drive and heart to be the best, and after being named the Freshman of the Year, Land said it will just motivate her even more.
“It gives me a better drive to compete,’’ she said. “I was glad that I had PRs in all three events, and I want to get better in every (event). I never did indoor track before so I never started track this early (in the year). I think because I was in indoor track it will help me even more in the outdoor track season that starts next week. Right now I am just trying to get ready for outdoor track and hoping to have a good season.’’
Bostwick said he can tell Land is anxious to improve and take the next step, and he said winning the Freshman of the Year award has given her a new air of confidence.
“She has come out the last couple of days with a little more confidence, a little more swagger,’’ he said. “When you come in as a freshman, you are always looking to the older members of the team, always looking to the leaders. We want the (freshmen) to learn to be leaders, and you can see it in her. She’s getting to the point where she is learning to lead.
“She’s getting ready for the outdoor season, and the goal now is to make it to the outdoor nationals.’’