RECAP: History Made On Day 1 Of NCAA DI Indoor Championships

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Georgia’s Kendell Williams started Day 1 of the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships with a bang, just as she has done each of the past three years.

Williams couldn’t keep up her usual record pace, though – but did make history Friday, as did several other athletes inside Texas A&M’s Gilliam Indoor Stadium.

The Bulldog dynamo opened the pentathlon with a collegiate pentathlon individual event record in the 60 hurdles (8.03) and four events later, held off a tough challenge from Arkansas’ Taliyah Brooks to become the 6th woman in NCAA history – across all divisions – to win four consecutive titles in a single event. Williams is the first in NCAA DI to accomplish said feat.

Making It Look Easy With NCAA Titles

Name Event Division
Kendell Williams, Georgia Pentathlon NCAA DI
Delloreen Ennis-London, Abilene Christian 55 Hurdles NCAA DII
Jessica Pixler, Seattle Pacific Mile NCAA DII
Barbara Szabo, Western State High Jump NCAA DII
Eleena Zhelezov, Brandeis Triple Jump NCAA DIII
Amber James, Wheaton 400 NCAA DIII

Williams entered the 800 just 9 points up on Brooks, who actually took the lead from the three-time defending champion after the high jump. The Georgia senior bounced back and closed the pentathlon with a PR in the 800 (2:15.61) to push her point total to 4682, which was the 2nd most in meet history and 3rd most in collegiate history.

Several hours later, Ole Miss junior Raven Saunders stepped into the circle and proved she was just getting warmed up after a tremendous outdoor season that ended with a trip to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Saunders put together one of the greatest shot-put series in NCAA history and like her nickname “Hulk” suggests, smashed the record books. Her final attempt of the night sailed 19.56m (64-2¼) and shattered her own collegiate record by more than a foot. That came two rotations after she uncorked yet another throw of more than 19 meters, which comes in as the 4th best mark in collegiate history.

Hulk Smash

Attempt 1 2 3 4 5 6
Metric 18.31m 17.98m 18.04m 19.20m* 18.10m 19.56m*
Imperial 60-1 59-0 59-2¼ 63-0 59-4¾ 64-2¼

If it weren’t for those pesky lane lines, Saunders wouldn’t be the only one celebrating a collegiate record. Oregon’s Deajah Stevens appeared to have set an all-time best in the 200 with her time of 22.28 in Heat 3 of the prelims, but was disqualified due to a lane violation.

Another Saunders – Kentucky’s Sha’Keela Saunders (no relation to Raven) – had quite the performance in the long jump.

The Wildcat standout soared 6.90m (22-7¾) on her final attempt to notch the 3rd best mark in collegiate history and to give her program its first women’s long jump title (second in school history). Her effort also stands as the 2nd best mark in NCAA meet history.

Staying in the field, Georgia’s Madeline Fagan won the high jump. Fagan, teammate Tatiana Gusin and Mississippi State’s Logan Boss became the first trio to all clear 1.90m (6-2¾) in the same NCAA indoor meet.

History was also made in the women’s distance medley relay, where Colorado edged Stanford and Oregon – the collegiate record holder in the event – for the title. It was the Buffs’ first DMR crown in program history and the first conference sweep of the top-3 spots in NCAA meet history.

Edward Cheserek didn’t run in the men’s DMR in an effort to rest his legs for a busy Day 2. Cheserek ran the quickest time in the mile prelims (3:59.30) and then doubled back to capture his 3rd career title in the 5000. He’ll race twice on Day 2 – first in the mile final and then again in the 3000.

The women’s 5000 title went to Missouri’s Karissa Schweizer, who outkicked Michigan’s Erin Finn and Notre Dame’s Anna Rohrer. It was only fitting because Schweizer blew past those same women for the NCAA XC individual title in November. Schweizer clocked a time of 15:19.14 on Friday, which stands as the 3rd fastest time in meet history and the 6th fastest time in collegiate history.

Other champions from Day 1 included Florida’s KeAndre Bates in the men’s long jump, South Dakota’s Chris Nilsen in the men’s pole vault, Colorado State’s Mostafa Hassan in the men’s shot put and Ole Miss’ men in the DMR.

While these men weren’t crowned champions yet, Tennessee’s Christian Coleman and Texas A&M’s Fred Kerley had themselves a day. Coleman ran the 9th fastest time in collegiate history in the 60 prelims (6.50) and Kerley notched the 2nd fastest time in meet history over 400 meters (45.10).

Day 2 of the 2017 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships begins Saturday at noon CT with the heptathlon 60 hurdles, with the first running event scheduled for 4 p.m. with the women’s mile final.