Central Missouri Women Favored to Add DII Outdoor Title to Indoor Crown
NEW ORLEANS – After waiting 33 years to win its first women’s NCAA Division II Track & Field team title in program history this winter on the indoor circuit, Central Missouri’s wait for title No. 2 might be considerably shorter.
The Jennies will enter this weekend’s NCAA DII Outdoor Championships in Allendale, Michigan (May 21-23) as the team to beat, according to the final National Team Computer Rankings released by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Monday.
Behind tremendous field event prowess by standouts Erika Kinsey and Heavin Warner, among others, UCM is a clear – though, not unassailable – favorite this weekend. The reigning indoor champions checked in with a team ranking score of 215.82 points, ahead of No. 2 New Mexico Highlands and its force-of-nature star Salcia Slack at 171.39, and a group of five more teams that posted scores of 100 points or more.
A reminder: the National Team Computer Rankings formula does not equate to the NCAA Championships scoring system. A full breakdown of the process can be found here.
At the head of that five-team chase pack are a trio of teams with championship pedigree. No. 3 Lincoln (Mo.) is the defending national team champion, No. 4 Saint Augustine’s kicked off the new millennium with three consecutive titles, and Grand Valley State won two titles in a row in 2011-12, as well as numerous cross country crowns.
Lincoln comes in with a score of 144.12, just ahead of Saint Augustine’s at 137.36 and GVSU at 135.29.
No. 6 Pittsburg State (119.74) will look to keep its momentum going after upsetting both UCM and Lincoln at the MIAA Championships last weekend, while newcomer No. 7 Azusa Pacific (100.93) is also in the hunt.
Rounding out the top 10 were No. 8 Adams State (96.64), No. 9 Ashland (95.46) and No. 10 West Texas A&M (87.76).
The battle at the top of the rankings will very much be determined by the performances of a handful of individuals. Namely, it’ll be Salcia Slack of NMHU against Erika Kinsey, Heavin Warner and Madison Smith.
In addition to contesting the heptathlon – an event in which she is the defending national champion and the DII record holder – Slack will compete in the 100-meter hurdles, the 400-meter hurdles, the long jump, the triple jump, the shot put, and as a member of the 4×400 relay. For those keeping track at home, that’s six events – twice as many as any other athlete in the country, man or woman.
She accounts for six of NMHU’s 13 total entries.
Beyond Slack, six more women are entered in three events, three of whom will be wearing the red and gold of UCM. Kinsey will contest the high jump, long jump and triple jump; Warner will compete in the hammer throw, shot put and discus; and Smith will contest the high jump, heptathlon and 100-meter hurdles.
Those three – who will all compete head-to-head against Slack at least once – account for nine of UCM’s nation-leading 16 entries.
Trailing UCM on the total entries list are: host GVSU with 15; Lincoln, Adams State and West Texas A&M with 14; and Ashland, NMHU and Pittsburg State with 13. Saint Augustine’s is the only other team with double-digit entries at 11.
Eleven is also the number of top-10-seeded entries Central Missouri athletes account for in their respective events, most in the nation ahead of 10 each for Lincoln and GVSU, and nine from NMHU.
Go one layer deeper and UCM’s biggest advantage reveals itself. The Jennies are represented by seven entries that are seeded No. 1, 2, or 3 in their respective events – well ahead of the four boasted by NMHU, Saint Augustine’s and Azusa Pacific.
Keep a particular eye on the following “swing” events that will go a long way in determining the team title and team podium positioning:
- Long Jump: Five of the top six women in the country are also members of teams competing for the national title or one of the four team podium spots. Central Missouri is represented by fifth-seed Kinsey, New Mexico Highlands by indoor champ No. 2 Shanice McPherson (as well as defending outdoor national champion No. 11 Salcia Slack), Saint Augustine’s by No. 3 Shakinah Brooks, GVSU by No. 6 Sarah Talbott and Pittsburg State by defending national triple jump outdoor champion Antquinta Reed. Kinsey, Slack and Reed will also square off as three of the top four seeds in the triple jump.
- Pole Vault: No single event is more crucial to a team’s hopes than the women’s pole vault for Grand Valley State. Four women qualified to the event – tied for the most in a single women’s event with Ashland in the shot put – including No. 4 Jamie Roberts and No. 5 Alexandra Kitz. This group of four will need to do much better than the five GVSU women who went to NCAA indoors. While Roberts finished third, No. 2 Kitz and another teammate failed to clear the bar even once, while Jennifer Schornak managed seventh-place. Seventh place outdoors for Schornak would be a boon for the Lakers, as she’s seeded No. 11 this weekend.
- So many points are up for grabs in the two hurdles races. The 400-meters could be of particular importance as Saint Augustine’s has the top seed in Tia-Adana Belle, and NMHU, Lincoln, GVSU, Pittsburg State and Adams State all have women seeded in the top 11, but none as high as fifth. Cracking the top three would be of crucial importance for those athletes (No. 5 Jessica Scherrer of Adams State, No. 6 Emilynn Dearman of Pittsburg State, No. 9 Breanna Luba of GVSU, No. 10 Ladonna Richards of Lincoln (Mo.), and No. 11 Slack of NMHU.) In the 100-meter hurdles, Richards of Lincoln is the top seed, while NMHU is banking on big points from No. 4 Osheen Erskine and No. 5 Slack. No. 3 Courtney Nelson of Pittsburg State will also be in contention.
- Heptathlon: Six athletes from five different team title/podium contenders will go through the seven-event circuit of the heptathlon. NM Highlands has record-holder/defending champ Salcia Slack, Megan VanWinkle of Azusa Pacific is No. 2, UCM has the duo of No. 3 Madison Smith and Zoe Shaprlin, Derman of Pittsburg State is No. 7 and Adams State’s Serena Canegan is No. 9. Positioning will be vital in this event.
Women’s Indoor Track & Field National Team Computer Rankings (Top 25)
2015 Week #10 — MONDAY, May 18
|next ranking: final, NCAA Championships (May 21-23)|
|Rank||Institution||Points||Conference||Head Coach (Yr)||Last Week|
|1||Central Missouri||215.82||MIAA||Kirk Pedersen (19th)/Kip Janvrin (17th)||1|
|2||New Mexico Highlands||171.39||RMAC||Bob DeVries (23rd)||2|
|3||Lincoln (Mo.)||144.12||MIAA||Victor Thomas (14th)||3|
|4||Saint Augustine’s||137.36||CIAA||George Williams (39th)||4|
|5||Grand Valley State||135.29||GLIAC||Jerry Baltes (16th)||5|
|6||Pittsburg State||119.74||MIAA||Russ Jewett (29th)||6|
|7||Azusa Pacific||100.93||PacWest||Preston Grey (3rd)||9|
|8||Adams State||96.64||RMAC||Rock Light (2nd)||10|
|9||Ashland||95.46||GLIAC||Jud Logan (12th)||8|
|10||West Texas A&M||87.76||Lone Star||Darren Flowers (6th)||11|
|11||Hillsdale||76.99||GLIAC||Andrew Towne (4th)||7|
|12||Southern Connecticut||74.33||Northeast-10||Melissa Stoll (3rd)||12|
|13||Tarleton State||68.27||Lone Star||Patrick Ponder (9th)||15|
|14||Wayne State (Neb.)||67.85||NSIC||Marlon Brink (15th)||13|
|15||Lewis||57.90||GLVC||Dana Schwarting (10th)||19|
|16||Winona State||55.51||NSIC||Mason Rebarchek (11th)||17|
|17||Western Washington||55.46||GNAC||Pee Wee Halsell (28th)||20|
|18||Angelo State||54.24||Lone Star||James Reid (16th)||16|
|19||Chico State||53.77||CCAA||Robert Nooney (2nd)||24|
|20||New Haven||53.13||Northeast-10||Shaunnaya Williams (4th)||21|
|21||Texas A&M-Kingsville||51.08||Lone Star||Ryan Dall (7th)||23|
|22||Alaska Anchorage||51.00||GNAC||Michael Friess (25th)||25|
|23||Findlay||48.10||GLIAC||Marc Arce (27th)||22|
|24||Fort Hays State||44.64||MIAA||Dennis Weber (22nd)||27|
|25||Winston-Salem State||44.43||CIAA||Inez Turner (6th)||26|
|dropped out: No. 14 Simon Fraser, No. 18 Shorter|
|View All Teams Beyond the Top 25|
|Women’s Conference Index Top 10|
|Rank||Conference||Points||Top 25 Teams|
|Women’s Regional Index Leaders (FINAL)|
|Midwest||Grand Valley State||516.58||1|
|South Central||New Mexico Highlands||420.07||1|
|View All Regional Rankings|