Division II Championships Preview

Division II Championships Preview

NEW ORLEANS – The air in Pueblo, Colo., may be thinner than many other places around the country, but the plotlines for the NCAA Division II Outdoor Championships to be held there Thursday through Saturday certainly run quite thick. Season-long rankings races will be settled, individual rivalries will be renewed, event crowns will be defended — or lost — and multiple former division champions will square off as the Division II track & field season comes to an exciting conclusion this weekend.

The Details

May 23-25 | Full Schedule | Host: CSU Pueblo | Pueblo, Colo. – Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl
Follow Live: Live Stream | Live Results
Entries: MEN | WOMEN
Start Lists: MEN | WOMEN
Entry Leaders: By Team | By Conference
National Championships Central

Active Division II Outdoor Individual Champions

Men   Women
Name/School Event (Year)   Name/School Event/Year
Romel Lewis/Lincoln (Mo.) 100 (2012)   Latoya King/Lincoln (Mo.) 100 (2012)
Josh Edmonds/Saint Augustine’s 200 (2012)     200 (2012)
Akino Ming/Johnson C. Smith 400 (2012)   Kayon Robinson/Adams State 400 (2012)
Ty’Reak Murray/Saint Augustine’s 110h (2012)   Kristen McGlynn-Arendt/Adams St 5000 (2012)
Sabiel Anderson/Lincoln (Mo.) 400h (2012)   Michell Cumberbatch/Lincoln (Mo.) 400h (2012)
Edward Dudley/Lake Erie HJ (2012)     400h (2010)
CJ Griggs/Texas A&M-Kingsville TJ (2012)   Yanique Haye/Lincoln (Mo.) 400h (2011)
Derrick Vicars/Findlay SP (2012)   Kristen Hixson/Grand Valley State PV (2012)
  DT (2010)   Nickeisha Beaumont/Lincoln (Mo.) LJ (2012)
Andrew Etheridge/Emporia State 110h (2011)   Kearah Danville TJ (2012)
Brent Vogel/Central Missouri Dec (2011)   Runa Falch/Augustana (S.D.) 1500 (2011)
      Alicia Nelson/Adams State 3000s (2010)


The Team Races

The difference between the No. 1 and No. 2 — and even No. 3 for the women — in the USTFCCCA National Team Computer Rankings is the smallest it has been for either sex in the four years of the rankings.

The computers project the No. 1 indoor champion Saint Augustine’s men to eke out a narrow victory of No. 2 Grand Canyon and No. 3 Ashland, while the indoor champion Academy of Art women are projected No. 1 by the narrowest of margins over No. 2 Lincoln (Mo.) and No. 3 Grand Canyon — with No. 4 Grand Valley, the defending outdoor champion, lurking in a not-too-distant fourth.

A title for Saint Augustine’s would be its first since the second of back-to-back crowns in 2010, and would also make them the first team to sweep the indoor and outdoor titles since Abilene Christian did so in 2011.

Saint Augustine’s and Abilene Christian have dominated the DII track & field scene for more than three decades, having combined for 30 of the past 31 team titles — a streak broken up by Adams State last season. Adams State is No. 4 in the rankings entering the championships.

Men’s USTFCCCA Top 5

Rank Team Score
1. Saint Augustine’s ^ 221.83
2. Grand Canyon 220.27
3. Ashland 210.48
4. Adams State * 189.26
5. Findlay 131.42

Women’s USTFCCCA Top 5

Rank Team Score
1. Academy of Art ^ 236.27
2. Lincoln (Mo.) 234.84
3. Grand Canyon 234.15
4. Grand Valley State * 208.32
5. Adams State 141.06

* defending outdoor champion
^ 2013 indoor champion

Grand Canyon would claim NCAA titles in back-to-back seasons after claiming the indoor title last season, providing for a fitting end to its time in DII as it transitions to Division I next season. A team crown would be the first for Ashland, which finished runner-up indoors this season.

Should the Academy of Art women claim the team title it would mark the fourth time in the past five seasons a team has swept the indoor and outdoor titles, following Grand Valley State in both 2012 and 2011 and Lincoln (Mo.) in 2009. The Urban Knights already made history in becoming the first NCAA program to win a national title in its first year of NCAA competition with its indoor crown in March.

Lincoln (Mo.) is going for its first outdoor title since 2009, which was the last of a run of six of seven titles. The Blue Tigers have finished runners-up in each of the past three DII Championships. Grand Canyon would earn its first NCAA title.

Never to be counted out is Grand Valley State, which would win its third consecutive outdoor crown.

Event-By-Event Preview

A pair of hurdles events will pit former NCAA champions against one another in the women’s 400 hurdles and the men’s 110 hurdles. Lincoln (Mo.) teammates Michelle Cumberbatch and Yanique Haye have traded places atop the podium in the event since 2010, with Cumberbatch winning last season and in 2010 and Haye in 2011. Haye is seeded No. 2 (57.91) and Cumberbatch No. 3 (58.08) behind division-leading Samantha Elliot of Johnson C. Smith in 57.64. Five others have run faster than 1:00.00 this season, setting up a significant challenge for the Blue Tiger tandem to claim another title.

In the men’s 110 hurdles defending champion Ty’Reak Murray of Saint Augustine’s is seeded No. 16 (14.13) and 2011 champ Andrew Etheridge of Emporia State is No. 6 at 13.97 as one of six who have gone sub-14.00. Ashland and Saint Augustine’s both have a pair of runners in the event, which could prove crucial in the overall team race.

A full list of defending and former individual champions can be found at the top of the Division II section of this article. Each of the sprints champions — both men’s and women’s — will be back this season to defend their titles, as will both of the men’s hurdles champions. In total, title defenses will take place in eight men’s events and in eight women’s events.

100 Meters
Freshman Dario Horvat of Grand Canyon is the top seed at 10.18, just ahead of West Texas A&M’s Kenny Jackson at 10.19 and four others under 10.30, including defending champ Romel Lewis of Lincoln (Mo.). On the women’s side, Latoya King of Lincoln (Mo.) will look to defend her title as the No. 7 seed at 11.65, but will have to contend with top-seeded Danielle Williams of Johnson C. Smith and Shavine Hodges of Grand Canyon at 11.34 and 11.36, respectively.

200 Meters
Academy of Art standout Vashti Thomas headlines the women’s 200 as the top seed at 23.33, going against Hodges at 23.43, defending 400 champion Kayon Robinson of Adams State at 23.45 and defending champion King at 23.56. Jerrell Hancock of Minnesota State is far and away the top seed in the men’s race at 20.49, but the top 11 have all gone under 21 seconds to provide for a deep field — so deep that defending champion Josh Edmonds of Saint Augustine’s is the No. 12 seed at 21.05.

400 Meters
This event could have significant implications for the women’s team race, as five of the top six seeds compete for teams within the top five of the USTFCCCA Rankings, headlined by defending champ Robinson of Adams State in 52.79. Petra Fanty of Grand Canyon (52.92) and Lincoln’s Donna-Lee Hylton (52.96) are the only sprinters seeded within half a second of Robinson. Akino Ming of Johnson C. Smith is back to defend the men’s 400 title as the top seed in 46.11, but he’ll be challenged by eight other runners who have broken the 47-second barrier outdoors in 2013.

800 Meters
Can anyone catch Helen Crofts of Simon Fraser or Drew Windle of Ashland? Crofts is seeded at 2:04.53 but ran a 2:02.10 — No. 2 in DII history — this past weekend at the Oxy High Performance meet. Even with her seed time she is more than three seconds faster than the No. 2 seed. Windle leads the division by more than a second at 1:48.04, and Ashland has a chance for a serious boost in the team standings with three of the event’s top six runners if they can hold form or improve.

1500 Meters
Vegard Olstad of Western State and Stephen Emery and Matt Daniels of Adams State will resume their RMAC rivalry in the 1500, with Olstad ranked No. 1 at 3:43.07, Emery No. 2 at 3:43.89 and Daniels No. 3 in 3:45.45. Melissa Agnew of U-Mary is the top seed in the women’s race by more than two seconds at 4:22.59 with seeds No. 2 through 6 seeded within two seconds of one another.

3000 Steeplechase
Michael Jordan — of Southern Indiana, not Chicago — is seeded No. 1 in the men’s race at 8:42.63 as one of just four men who have run sub-9:00 this season. A move by No. 3 Tabor Stevens (8:54.79) past Jordan and Ieuan Thomas of Western State (8:46.20) could prove big for Adams State’s title defense hopes. Adams State’s Alicia Nelson, the 2010 champ, is the top seed on the women’s side at 10:03.70 — the No. 2 time in DII history — with rival Susan Tanui of Alaska Anchorage (10:13.40) the only other qualifier within 20 seconds of her.

5000 Meters
The top four seeds, led by Alaska Anchorage’s Ruth Keino at 16:20.87, all enter with times faster than 16:30.00 and have an advantage if the race takes a faster tone. If it doesn’t, all of the 24 entrants — comprising the largest field at the championships — have run under 17:00.00 this season. Adams State and Grand Valley State have the most to gain in the championship picture with five and three entrants, respectively. The Adams State men possess the top three seeds in their race, led by Daniels at 13:50.71, and are among five runners below 14:00.00. Again, pace is a big factor, as the entire field is seeded faster than 14:23.00.

10,000 Meters
Runa Falch of Augustana (S.D.) won an NCAA title at 1500 meters in 2011, but she has upped the distance since, entering as the top seed at 10,000 meters. She would become the first DII woman to win both the 1500 and the 10,000, but will have to contend with ten other runners seeded within 30 seconds of her 34:50.41. Glarius Rop of American International and Western State’s Gabriel Proctor are neck-and-neck atop the men’s seedings at 28:58.22 and 28:58.92, respectively, with three others seeded at 29:10 or faster.

100/110 hurdles
Aside from the Murray/Etheridge former champions clash, Moussa Dembele of Saint Augustine’s is the class of the field at 13.59, with five others faster than 14.00. Defending champ Murray could provide a big boost to Saint Augustine’s title chances with a jump from the No. 16 seed into scoring position. Academy of Art’s Thomas is the top seed in this event at 12.56 — as well as one of the best in the world — on the women’s side, checking in more than half a second ahead of No. 2 Williams of Johnson C. Smith (13.14). Academy of Art’s title chances depend largely on this event, as it has five of the top 11 seeds.

400 hurdles
The Cumberbatch/Haye battle for teammate bragging rights and a fourth national title between the two lies within a broader competition featuring eight sub-1:00 hurdlers, led by Samantha Elliot of Johnson C. Smith in 57.64. The men’s race is another that could  have a big impact on the team race with top-ranked Elhadji Mbow of Saint Augustine’s (50.09), No. 3 Ramon Cooper of Grand Canyon (51.61) and a pair of Ashland hurdlers at Nos. 6 and 7 in Elijha Owens (51.77) and Waquiem Comar (51.82). All will have to deal with defending champion Sabiel Anderson of Lincoln (Mo.), seeded No. 2 at 50.33.

4×100 Relay
The 4×100 will be an important factor in the women’s team race with Academy of Art, Lincoln (Mo.) and Grand Canyon all within the top three in that order, with Adams State and Grand Valley at No. 6 and 7, respectively. On the men’s side Saint Augustine’s and Grand Canyon are No. 1 and 2, respectively, with Ashland and Adams State having plenty of growth (read: points) potential if they move up from No. 9 and 10, respectively.

4×400 Relay
Four of the top five teams on both the men’s side — Saint Augustine’s, Ashland, Grand Canyon and Findlay — and women’s side — Lincoln, Grand Canyon, Academy of Art and Grand Valley State — have teams entered in what may become the most important event of the meet if a team title is still up for grabs entering this final event of the meet. Of the men’s teams, Saint Augustine’s is No. 1 by a wide margin over No. 2 Ashland, 3:03.96 to 3:08.01, while Findlay is No. 6 (3:10.20) and Grand Canyon is No. 10 (3:11.15). On the women’s side Lincoln holds the advantage at No. 2 (3:34.52) by a wide margin over No. 3 Grand Canyon (3:42.12), No. 5 Academy of Art (3:42.88) and No. 10 GVSU (3:45.54).

High Jump
Lake Erie’s Edward Dudley is the defending champ in the event, but he has a significant challenge in being seeded No. 2 (7-3¼/2.22m) to No. 1 Jeron Robinson of Texas A&M Kingsville, who has jumped 7-5 (2.26m) with a field of six who have cleared seven feet this season. On the women’s side Barbara Szabo has been the class of the division all season, seeded No. 1 at 6-2¼ (1.89m), a mark that would put her in contention for points at the DI championships. Two other jumpers who have cleared six feet in San Francisco State’s Tiana Wills and Ashland’s Jennifer Foster are also in the field.

Pole Vault
The historic women’s pole vault trio of Ashland’s Katie Nageotte, Grand Valley State’s Kristen Hixson and Hillsdale’s Kayla Caldwell each cleared 13-11¼ (4.25m) at the DII Indoor Championships in what was one of the best pole vault competitions in division history. The outdoor rematch could be even more epic, with Nageotte having broken the division record at 14-6¾ (4.44m) — against Caldwell and Hixson at the GLIAC championships, no less — with Caldwell having cleared 14-2 (4.32m) this outdoor season and with No. 3 Hixson (13-11¼/4.25m) tasked with defending her outdoor title from a year ago. Texas A&M Kingsville further demonstrates its field event prowess on the men’s side with Jordan Yamoah as the top seed at 17-5 (5.31m) ahead of No. 2 Vince Frawley of Grand Canyon (17-2¾/5.25m) and No. 3 Corey Shank of Findlay (17-¾/5.20m) behind with team championship implications.

Long Jump
The women’s long jump is another event with big team title implications, as Academy of Art’s Thomas is again ranked No. 1 (21-11/6.68m), but defending NCAA champ Nickeisha Beaumont of Lincoln is No. 7 at 19-10¼ (6.05m) and could give the Blue Tigers a push toward the top should she defend her title or score highly, while Grand Canyon has two jumpers within the top nine. On the men’s side AAron Hill of Grand Canyon is the clear No. 1 at 25-9¼ (7.85m), but the rest of the field is within a foot of one another between the low 25s and low 24s — including another pair of Grand Canyon jumpers.

Triple Jump
Texas A&M Kingsville’s CJ Griggs is the defending champ in the men’s triple jump at 52-6 (16.00m), just one centimeter ahead of No. 2 Carlton Lavong of Adams State at 52-5½ (15.99m) as the only two jumpers in the field to have surpassed 52 feet this season. Angelo State’s Kearah Danville is back on the women’s side to defend her triple jump crown as the top seed at 43-7 (13.28m), having won last season as a member of New Mexico Highlands. She will be up against Amanda Ouedraogo, seeded just two centimeters back at 43-6 (13.26m) and Thomas of Academy of Art at 43-1 (13.13m). In terms of team championships race, Lincoln (Mo.) has three in the event — two of whom are seeded outside of scoring position — while Grand Canyon has two in scoring position.

Shot Put
Both the men’s and women’s competitions have clear favorites in defending champ Derrick Vicars of Findlay and Sam Lockhart of Grand Valley State, respectively. Vicars leads all qualifiers by more than two feet at 64-4½ (19.62m), while Lockhart is the top female by nearly four feet at 55-1½ (16.80m). Findlay’s title hopes could be boosted by strong performances from Vicars and three other performers in the event.

Discus Throw
Lockhart is again the centerpiece of this event, having set the division record earlier this season at 193-1 (58.87m) by more than 12 feet. She has set division records in both of her past two competitions; can she keep the streak alive? Fort Hays State’s Max Alonso is the No. 1 on the men’s side at 190-10 (58.16m), a foot-and-a-half ahead of No. 2 Macklin Tudor of Tiffin at 189-4 (57.71m). Vicars of Findlay won the event as a freshman in 2010, and could close his collegiate discus career the same way, seeded No. 4 at 183-6 (55.93m).

Hammer Throw
Top seeds Jessica Rowland of Findlay at 210-3 (64.09m) and Garrett Grey of Ashland at 225-5 (68.70m) are among the best — if not the best, in the case of Rowland — in their event in the history of Division II. Rowland has the stronger competition of the two, with Carly Fehringer of Wayne State (Neb.) at No. 2 at 206-11 (63.07m), No. 3 Lockhart of Grand Valley at 201-4 (61.48m) and No. 4 Lachel Milander of Wayne State at 200-11 (61.25m) all past 200 feet. Lockhart and the Lakers have n opportunity to pick up points in the team race with four in the event and only Lockhart seeded in scoring position.

Javelin Throw
A pair of Alaska Anchorage throwers are No. 1 and 2 in the men’s javelin in Cody Parker and Franz Burghagen, who are both seeded more than a meter clear of No. 3 and 2½ ahead of No. 4. Makayla McPhail of Fort Hays State and freshman Bethany Drake of Western Washington are the class of the women’s field.

The men’s decathlon is set up to be the more tightly-contested of the two multi-event competitions, with three seeded within 20 points of one another at the top of the rankings. Justin Balczak of Lake Superior State is No. 1 at 7,282, just eight points ahead of 2011 NCAA champ Brent Vogel of Central Missouri at 7,274. Right behind those two is Nick Lebron of Southern Connecticut State, seed third at 7,263. Three others have surpassed 7,000 this season. Seattle Pacific’s Ali Worthen is the clear favorite in the women’s heptathlon with a score of 5,492 — more than 400 points ahead of the No. 2 seed Jordan Gray of Angelo State.