Miracle Ailes asserted herself as one of the best jumpers in Iowa history.
Now the Keokuk native is ready to test her skills at the national level.
Ailes signed last week to continue her track and field career with Alabama, one of the premier NCAA Division I programs in the United States, beginning the 2023-24 season.
“I went to four schools. It was always about how I felt there,” said Ailes, a sophomore at Iowa Western Community College. “Alabama really took care of me while I was there. It was just different from the other schools. It was hard not to follow my old coach (former Iowa Western Jumps coach Doug Marshall, recently hired as head coach at the University of North Texas) and Texas Tech. But it all came down to how I felt about the visit, and I just felt like Alabama was the best fit. I look forward to competing against the best jumpers in the country at the Southeastern Conference.”
Ailes is the current NJCAA national indoor champion in the high jump and outdoor champion in the long jump. During her four years at Keokuk High School, she was a two-time state champion and a two-time Drake Relays champion in the high jump.
More:Miracle Ailes wins the national long jump championship at the NJCAA outdoor meeting
Ailes helped Iowa Western win both the NJCAA indoor and outdoor national championships last season. She won the indoor high jump with a best of 5 feet, 9 inches and the outdoor long jump with a best of 21-8 3/4.
Ailes will be joining an Alabama team where Miguel Pate is the jumping coach.
“He’s so wonderful. He asked me what my goals are and he’s willing to help me achieve them,” Ailes said. “I’m excited for the opportunity. This will be my first time living out of state. I’m really excited, especially since today was the first day of snow here. I’ll be happy to go somewhere warm.”
More:Iowa State Track: Keokuk’s Miracle Ailes wears the Class 3A high jump crown
Ailes, who wants to be a mortician, said she will study business in Alabama and intern in mortuary science.
In the meantime, Ailes is preparing for the upcoming indoor season, which is due to start in early January.
“I’m going to graduate here in the spring and then travel to Alabama this summer to start training,” Ailes said. “Everyone in Alabama just clicks. This will make it easy for me to adapt. I look forward to getting started.”
Matt Levins is a sports reporter for the USA Today Network in Burlington, Iowa who has been covering local sports at The Hawk Eye for 32 years. You can reach him at [email protected]