Next time you hop on one of the Michigan blue buses, check quickly and see if the driver is decked out in Michigan track and field apparel.

“I drive the blue bus,” redshirt senior Shana Vinson said. “I drive all the routes, really: commuter, Bursley- Baits. I’ve been driving for going on four years. It’s one of the better paying student jobs.”

While she admits she doesn’t have much free time in addition to working and training during the indoor and outdoor seasons, that’s something the senior can live with.

Vinson, a Detroit native, walked on to the Michigan track and field program in her freshman year. As a sophomore, she made the travel squad and began competing, even though her premier high school event — the 400-meter dash.

“When I first actually started competing,” Vinson said, “I was excited, new to the scene. We had a lot of girls already on the team who ran the 400. So, my sophomore year, I ran the 4×400(-meter relay). I was an alternate (in the) DMR (distance medley relay) at nationals.”

Today, the 400-meter dash is again her premier event, but Vinson has tried a few different events along the way. She regularly competes in the 200-meter dash, the 400-meter dash, and runs the last leg in the 4×400-meter relay.

This season at the Simmons-Harvey Invitational, Vinson competed in a new event, the 60-meter dash, to prove to herself and her coach that she “had speed.” Michigan coach James Henry said he “would never let her run the 60-meter dash” as a regular event, but admitted that her desire to show versatility will prove valuable in her other events.

“She knows if she can utilize her foot speed in her premier event, she can make significant improvements,” Henry said.

Henry, who named Vinson as one of three captains this season, said that he has seen Vinson develop into an incredible athlete over the past four years, adding that the program will miss “one of our greatest quarter-mile runners” when she graduates.

“She already has the third-fastest time at Michigan ever (in the 400-meter dash), and she’s only a snap away from becoming our best 400(-meter) indoor runner,” Henry said. “I think she’s also overlooking the possibility that she can become our 200-meter record-holder as well. She’s capable of being one of our best athletes ever.”

Breaking the Michigan indoor record for the 400-meter dash is at the top of Vinson’s ‘to-do list’ these days. The time she ran last weekend at the Rod McCravy invitational was 54.74. The school record — held by Serita Williams — is just .34 seconds faster.

“It would mean a lot to me (to break the school record),” Vinson said. “I’ve been trying to get there. I feel like I’ve always had the potential but this year I feel a lot stronger and a lot faster. Right now, it means the world to me. I’m giving everything for it.”

Some extra incentive for Vinson to break Michigan’s 400-meter dash record is that the provisional qualifying time for indoor nationals in that event is 54:40, just one hundredth of a second faster than the school record.

While Vinson may be determined to break the school record, she doesn’t let that impact her training on a day-to-day basis. Her level head and lead-by-example attitude was one of the reasons Henry selected Vinson as a captain this year. She trains the same, regardless of the outcome at a meet.

“I just count every day as another day for me to get better,” Vinson said. “After I have a good meet, of course I’m excited, but I always think about what I could’ve improved on and what I could’ve changed in the race. It probably gives me more inspiration to train harder because I know I can get there.”

When asked if running professionally was in her future, Vinson said she was unsure. Right now, she’s moving along with plans to attend graduate school for public health, but said that she will always “run for fun.”

“She is a perfect example of someone that walks on to the program and finds her spot the hard way,” Henry said. “She developed into being both (a student) and an athlete. The program is going to miss someone that is a star in the making.”

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