RECAP: NCAA DIII Indoor Championships Conclude In Thrilling Fashion
By Tom Lewis, USTFCCCA
March 11, 2017
The NCAA Division III Indoor Track & Field Championships came to a thrilling conclusion on Saturday. The women of Washington University of Missouri won the national team crown while the men of host North Central College and University of Wisconsin, La Crosse shared the top spot on the podium.
The Washington (Mo.) women, head coached by Jeff Stiles captured its first indoor crown in program history, scoring 44 points. Ithaca (41¼), George Fox (31), and Williams (30½) followed with podium finishes.
With a win in the 4×400, UW-La Crosse scored 10 points to end the day with 34, tying North Central who claimed third-place in the same 4×400. UW-Whitewater (30) and UW-Stevens Point (27) also earn national team trophies from the NCAA. UW-La Crosse extends its all-time Division III high with its 18th indoor men’s team title (first since 2014) while North Central captured its fifth all-time indoor crown and first since 2012.
Several events featured fantastic finishes and a number of athletes captured two individual crowns during the meet.
Ohio Northern junior Emily Richards made history in the middle-distance events as she became only the third in DIII women’s indoor history to sweep the 800 and Mile at the same championships. She joins UW-Oshkosh’s Christy Cazzola (2012) and UW-Platteville’s Marcia Taddy (2007). In the 800, she won by almost two seconds over the field in 2:10.38 ahead of St. Norbert’s Brittany Kozlowski, and, in the mile, she won in 4:51.51 two-and-a-half seconds over Virginia Wesleyan’s Marissa Coombs.
Amber Celen of Bridgewater (Va.) seized the day with national first-place showings in the 60 and 200 meters, becoming only the second woman in meet history to take both events. In the 200, she ran a division- and championships-record 24.15. She was also impressive in the 60, running 7.54, the best time in the division this year as she now stands in a tie for third on the all-time DIII charts in that event. Washington’s Daisy Ogede placed runner-up in the 60 and third in the 200.
Ithaca’s Taryn Cordani capped the distance double, winning the 3000 meter crown in 9:42.43 on Saturday to go with the 5000 title she grabbed on Friday.
SUNY Geneseo senior Alexa Wandy once again made her “last one, the best one”. Yesterday, in the long jump, she needed her final attempt to move from ninth to the take the national crown. Today, in the triple jump, although in the lead throughout the competition, her final attempt produced a new championships record. She leapt to 41-5¾ (12.64m) to topple the previous meet record set in 2002 by Wheaton’s Shimera Daniels. Completing the long-triple double, Wandy is the first to accomplish the feat since Illinois College’s Melissa Norville did the same in 2013. Runner-up to Wandy, UW-Platteville’s Amber Williams, placed in the top three of both horizontal jump events .
Monique Newton of Oberlin entered the meet as the favorite in the women’s shot put with the division’s best mark and runner-up showing a year ago. She waited until the last moment, but a final-round big toss of 51-¾ (15.56m) was enough to move the junior from eighth-place to the top positon. Her mark moves her into No. 6 on the all-time DIII charts and captured the win by over a foot from Ithaca’s Brandy Smith.
Two freshmen waged a toe-to-toe battle in the women’s high jump. Both Cirrus Robinson of Ohio Wesleyan and Emma Egan of Williams cleared the first four heights of the competition with no problems. Robinson cleared the winning height, 5-7¾ (1.72m), on her first try while Egan missed her first try. Egan nearly stole the title from Robinson on her final attempt at 5-8¾ (1.75m). She was nearly over the bar but touched it with her foot, causing it to fall.
Jack Flood led a 1-3-7 finish by SUNY Cortland in the men’s heptathlon. With 5,247 points, Flood scored the division’s best score of the year and moves to No. 6 on the all-time Division III list. Runner-up, Andrew Bartnett of Johns Hopkins, just nine points behind at 5,238, is now the No. 7 all-time best performer in DIII history. Flood won the 60 meter hurdles in 8.36 to start the day while Bartnett dominated the pole vault with a clearance above 17 feet. Flood outran Bartnett in the 1000 meter finale, 2:41.55 to 2:43.98. Also for Cortland, Connor Christophers was third (5,181) and Brent Di Vittorio (4,919) was seventh.
The track finals were as unpredictable and hotly contested as normal. In the men’s mile, SUNY Geneseo junior Isaac Garcia-Cassani came back from anchoring his team to a runner-up finish in the DMR last night to take individual crown. He won in a near-meet-record 4:07.77 over St. Olaf’s Joe Coffey.
The 60 meter hurdles titles were captured by Rachael Kraske of George Fox (8.63) and Rowan’s David Benjamin (7.98). Benjamin came from lane seven and outsprinted the rest of the group off the final hurdle to win by a significant margin over Trinity (Texas)’ Cody Hall.
UMass Boston freshman Wadeline Jonathas won the women’s 400 meters in 55.60. Her title is UMass Boston’s fourth all-time in the event and second in-a-row. Only Wheaton (Mass.), with seven titles, has more in the event’s history. Texas Lutheran’s Marquis Brown won the men’s crown in 48.62, just ahead of Mount Union freshman A.J. Digby (48.64).
Jamal Watkins of Birmingham-Southern took the men’s 60 meters in 6.76. While Deko Ricketts of Washington won the men’s 800 in 1:51.07. Juwan Petties-Jackson of Misericordia claimed the 200 title from section 1 in 21.68.
Nebraska Wesleyan won the women’s 4×400 with Elizabeth Jones, Abigail Hunke, Kaylee Jones, and Katie Krick doing the job in 3:46.95.
UW-La Crosse notched the men’s 4×400 title, and clinched the team crown with a section-one run of 3:15.81. Zak Wallenfang, Sam Smith, Joshua Descorcy, and Ross Denman ran the circuits for the Eagles.
The men’s high jump title was won by Rhodes junior Robert Eason. He and Alexander Niemiec of Springfield (Mass.) both cleared 6-9 (2.06m), but Eason won the day as he cleared on his second attempt at the height while it took Niemiec three tries.
Aurora junior Ryan Njegovan won the men’s shot put with a day’s best of 58-6 (17.83m), 9½ inches better than UW-Whitewater’s Theron Baumann for the crown.
Stockton junior Jared Lewis twice bounded to the meet-winning mark of 49-4½ (15.05m) in the men’s triple jump. He bettered the field and runner-up, Delaware Valley’s Ta’riq Thomas, by more than a foot for the victory.
All-America honors and USTFCCCA national awards will be announced later in the week. In addition, stay tuned for an update to the USTFCCCA Program of the Year Standings.