RECAP: First Two Days of NCAA DII ITF Championships Chock Full Of Excitement
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Records fell and champions were crowned.
If the first two days of the NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championships is a precursor to what fans can expect on Saturday for the finale at the Birmingham CrossPlex, then fans are in for a real treat.
If you missed the first two days, don’t worry. We have you covered below. And, this meet is far from over. With 21 final events tomorrow, and a slew of talented athletes looking to make their mark on the sport, this championship could go down as one of the finest NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championships in recent memory.
Below are recaps of each of the first two days of the NCAA Division II championships.
Day One – March 9
The first final of the weekend set the precedent for an exciting meet. In what was arguably the most surprising event of the day, Findlay’s Tynelle Gumbs bested two women who hold the top-9 spots in the Division II all-time record books for the women’s weight throw title. Gumbs had a launch of 21.41m (70-3) in her 5th throw that bested Winona State’s Kaitlyn Long (21.22m/69-7½) and Chadron State’s Mel Herl (21.13m/69-4). Long was hoping to three-peat in the event after recording the 2nd-best performance in Division II history just two weeks ago.
Despite a late push from West Texas A&M’s Rellie Kaputin, Chadron State’s Stachia Reuwsaat repeated as the women’s long jump champion. Reuwsaat notched a jump of 6.16m (20-2½) during her third jump, while Kaputin’s best jump of 6.05m (19-10¼) came during her final chance.
Tiffin’s men’s program placed 1st in two events with Coy Blair (weight throw) and Marquise Corbett (long jump) both fending off last year’s champ in their respective events. Blair posted a throw of 21.44m (70-4¼) in his final throw of the evening to sneak ahead of Division II leader Daniel Roberts of Ashland. Roberts fouled on his final throw, and the title went to Blair. Much like Blair, Corbett saved his finest performance for his last jump, although he led from the 3rd jump on. The senior notched a leap of 7.81m (25-7½) to defeat returning champion Sedeekie Edie of Lincoln (Mo.), who finished 2nd with a mark of 7.66m (25-1¾).
The 5000 meter champions were crowned, as Missouri Southern’s Vincent Kiprop and U-Mary’s Alexis Zeis both put together 1st-place races. Finishing 9th a year ago, Kiprop set a new meet record in the event, in addition running the 3rd-fastest time in NCAA Division II history, with a finish of 13:42.42. The sophomore handily defeated James Ngandu of Tiffin, finishing 15 seconds ahead of him. Returning champion Sydney Gidabuday placed 3rd with a time of 14:02.01.
Zeis entered the meet with a season-best time 19 seconds slower than Division II pacesetter Kendra Foley of Grand Valley State. However, Zeis turned it one when it really mattered, as she led from the 400 meter mark until crossing the finish line at 16:23.22, compared to Foley’s 2nd-place finish of 16:23.85.
In the men’s heptathlon, Azusa Pacific’s Shakiel Chattoo shot out to a healthy lead after placing 1st in the 60 meters (6.79) and high jump (7.09m/23-3¼). The defending heptathlon champion held a 187 point lead after the first day was through.
Prelims were plentiful on day one, with the defending champions in both 60 meter races, the men’s mile, the women’s 400 meters and the men’s and women’s 800 meter races all advancing to the finals.
Day 2 – March 10
The 2nd day of action in Birmingham lived up to expectations.
Minnesota State’s Michael Sandle brought home the championship in the men’s triple jump with a leap of 16.11m (52-10¼) in what was the first event final of the day. Shortly thereafter, a runner-up from a season ago took home the title in 2017. St. Martin’s Mikel Smith cleared 2.22m (7-3¼), outjumping Wingate’s Isaiah Kyle by one inch.
The action lasted all the way until the end of the evening, as well. Adams State’s women’s distance medley relay team broke the NCAA Division II indoor record with a blistering finish of 11:15.28. The Grizzlies truly set the pace for the race, as Minnesota-Duluth (11:16.90), Cedarville (11:19.55) and Walsh (11:20.61) all ran times faster than the previous record on the day.
And in the final event of the night, Western Oregon won by the absolute slimmest of margins in the men’s distance medley relay, as they slipped by Adams State, 9:40.144 to 9:40.145. That time also set a new indoor NCAA Division II record.
In between those events, though, there was plenty else to excite fans, as well as set up for an interesting final day on Saturday.
In the heptathlon, Chattoo came out strong again, allowing him to repeat in the event when all was said and done. The sophomore won the 60 hurdles in the heptathlon with a time of 7.93 that was four tenths of a second faster than his nearest competitor. Despite finishing 7th in the pole vault and 13th in the 1000 meters, the Jamaican scored 5474, fending off teammate Corey Reid by just 92 points, for his 2nd-straight 1st-place finish.
The women’s pentathlon took place on Friday, as well. Pittsburg State’s Emilyn Dearman dominated early, as she posted victories in the 60 hurdles (8.40) and the high jump (1.71m/5-7¼) while finishing second in the shot put (12.36m/40-6¾). Angelo State’s Kami Norton won the long jump with a leap of 6.04m (19-9¾). In the final event of the pentathlon of the day, Dearman finished 4th in the 800 meters, doing enough to take home the championship.
The men’s and women’s preliminary 60 meter and 200 meter races were held late Friday. 200 meter leaders heading into the race in Academy of Art’s Mobolade Ajomale and Merrimack’s Carly Muscaro both advanced, as did Chattoo in the 60 hurdles.
The NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championships will conclude tomorrow, with the women’s shot put kicking things off at 1:30pm CT. Be sure to check back throughout the day as we bring you more coverage of the meet on USTFCCCA.org.