Filip Timotija | Staff Writer
Junior sprinter Solo Hines broke Whitworth’s 60-meter dash school record at the Seattle Pacific Final Qualifier by posting a blazing-fast time of 6.83 seconds.
“We got to [University of Washington] a little early so I was definitely a little bit loose and relaxed which you want to be,” Hines said. “We were an hour out before my run, so I was still a little bit loose but more focused. I had my [Beats by Dr. Dre] on like I always do. About 35-40 minutes out, I was in the zone, headphones on – focusing on what I needed to, focusing on myself, focusing on my race.”
The native of Kent, WA, previously broke the school record in his first ever college track & field meet by posting a 6.87 at the Cougar Classic Open.
“It honestly still feels like a real dream because this is my first year running track since 2018, which was my senior year of high school,” Hines said. “So coming off a three-year drought and breaking the school record in my first race was honestly worth the wait. This is what I’ve been trained for all these three years. Then breaking the record again, a couple weeks later, was really a big accomplishment for me.”
Hines was dealing with a long-term nagging injury that was holding him back from peak performance.
“I was dealing with some hamstring issues and for the longest time I couldn’t get it fixed until I went to a certain doctor that got it fixed for me. Then I broke it [the school record] again. I was like,’ Yes, I need this!’”
Hines is a transfer student-athlete that had spent his previous two years at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada where he competed on the track and on the football field as a running back.
In March 2021, the sprinter started emailing schools such as University of Washington, Washington State University, University of Oregon and Eastern Washington University but none of them would reply.
Hines tried reaching out to schools in Alabama, North Dakota and Montana but received limited feedback with only University of Montana offering him a spot as a preferred walk-on.
“I did not go because I would have to pay a lot of money out-of-pocket,” Hines said. “I was just thinking about school in Washington because I knew I wanted to stay home.”
Whitworth had recruited Hines during his junior and senior year of high school.
“I did not go there initially because I didn’t do my research,” Hines said. “For the longest time my mindset was Division I or bust. Obviously due to some circumstances I couldn’t go [Division I], but after what happened in my life, I realized that it is not just Division I, that one goal, but also the love of sports that I play.”
“I contacted Coach [Rod Sandberg]. The next day he called me back saying that he wanted me there – that he wants me to be home. I came to my official visit and as soon as I stepped on campus I already felt at home,” Hines said.
The rising junior highlighted that Whitworth is the place for him and that he fits in well.
One thing that helped Hines transition from one program to another is the positive and supportive spirit on the track & field team.
Head coach Toby Schwartz has developed two acronyms that uplift and motivate every athlete on his roster.
“One is the T.E.A.M one and the other is 210 plus,” Hines said. “The T.E.A.M. one is more like other than just being a team, he wants us to be a family so that we can grow and build each other – which we have done since the beginning of the season. That is really something I have loved and experienced here which is like a family and community as well. The 210 plus is the goal that want. When we get 210 points, that will win us the conference [championship].”
Hines is also the starting running back for the Whitworth football team.
Growing up in Alabama, he did not have any memories of playing football.
He and his family moved to Seattle, Washington where he started participating in a running club from first to third grade of elementary school.
When his family moved again from Seattle to Kent, Washington, things changed for Hines’ athletic career.
“That’s when I started playing football,” Hines said. “I went to the [Seattle Seahawks] game and I fell in love with the Seahawks. I was like, ‘I’m going to play football!’ Fourth grade was the year I could remember playing football. I also played basketball and did track & field. From there on it was sports all my life.”
Most athletes go through a unique routine that they develop over time to get into the optimal state necessary to perform at peak potential.
Hines uses a combination of family support, prayers and affirmations to prepare himself for track meets.
“It all starts the day before the meet,” Hines said. “I call my mom all the time. We talk a little bit and then she prays, or we have a little prayer. On the day of the meet it’s all focused, but still a little loose and relaxed because that’s what we need to be. Then I go through my warmups, and I have my headphones in as much as I can. A lot of times before the race begins and when we do our practice starts, I usually just walk down my lane with my head down. Then I tell myself, ‘Alright, you know what you got to do. You know why you are here. Just do what you got to do – run fast. Remember everything you were taught.’ Then I pound my heart, point to the sky, and then after that I just run.”
The sprinter set the bar high for his expectations in the upcoming 2022 NCAA Division III Indoor Track & Field Championships.
“That’s just the mindset I know that we have,” Hines said. “Not to let the words or rankings tell us who’s faster, who’s slow, or…who’s always going to win. So, I expected us both [referring to junior hurdler Amelia Hewson] to finish top three. I really want us both to get first place in both of our events and to be named All-Americans. For me personally, I don’t have a set goal except just to go out there and win because that’s what I had told Coach Toby [Schwartz] in November or December. “
Hewson and Hines are two of seven Pirates to earn All-Region recognition from the USTFCCCA while Hines is the only Pirate to earn All-Region in two events – the 60-meter dash and the 200-meter dash (22.20).
Amelia Hewson and Solo Hines are set to represent Whitworth University at this weekend’s NCAA Division III Indoor Track & Field Championships in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.