Four Inducted Into USTFCCCA NCAA DII T&F Athlete Hall of Fame
NEW ORLEANS – Four former standouts at the NCAA Division II level will be enshrined into the USTFCCCA NCAA Division II Track & Field Athlete Hall of Fame.
The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced Wednesday that Malgorzata Biela of Lewis University, Daniel Kirwa of Harding University, Hyacinth Robinson of Kentucky State University and Vashti Thomas of Academy of the Art will join the prestigious ranks.
This is the 24th class to be inducted into the NCAA Division II Track & Field Athlete Hall of Fame which dates back to its opening in 1996. It ties 2015 for the smallest induction class that has made it into the hall over the past few years.
MALGORZATA BIELA, LEWIS UNIVERSITY
Malgorzata Biela ended her storied career as one of the most decorated mid-distance runners in NCAA Division II history. The Poland native accomplished what few others did as she captured six national titles and 11 All-American honors during her career with Lewis University.
Biela won national titles across four different events with two in the indoor 800 (1995-96), two in the outdoor 1500 (1997-98) and one in both the outdoor 800 (1995) and 3000 (1997).
The Flyer standout rewrote the school record books as she holds the top time for the program outdoors in the 1500 and 3000, to go with the second overall mark in the 800 and sixth in the 400. Indoors she ranks in the top-10 across five events with her best being the 800 and 1000 (both second all-time).
Biela is the fourth Lewis athlete to join the USTFCCCA NCAA DII Track & Field Athlete Hall of Fame, joining Charles Mulinga (Class of 2001), Duane Chappell (2015) and Kasia Airent (2016).
DANIEL KIRWA, HARDING UNIVERSITY
Daniel Kirwa was one of the most successful distance runners of his time coming out of Harding University.
The Eldoret, Kenya, native racked up 13 All-American honors (five indoor and eight outdoor, not to mention what he did as a cross country athlete that doesn’t factor into him making into the T&F Hall of Fame) and four individual national championships during his time with the program.
His national titles came during the 2008 indoor and outdoor and 2009 outdoor seasons. He started the 2008 season off with a national championship in the mile (along with a third-place finish in the 5000) and followed it up with a 10,000-meter title at the outdoor meet (to go with a second overall finish in the 5000).
The 2009 outdoor season was a perfect one for Kirwa as he went 6 for 6 in his races which included national titles in both the 5000 and 10,000. His 20 points was good enough to push Harding into the No. 13 place overall.
Kirwa ended his career with the school records in the outdoor 5000 (13:58.86) and 10,000 (28:36.23) and the indoor 1500 (3:48.02) and 5000 (14:03.35). He also sits top-5 in program history in the indoor 800 and mile.
Kirwa is just the second athlete in program history to be enshrined into the USTFCCCA NCAA DII Track & Field Athlete Hall of Fame, joining Janet Kogo (Class of 2010).
HYACINTH ROBINSON, KENTUCKY STATE UNIVERSITY
Hyacinth Garrison battled through great adversity to accomplish what she did on the track to make it into the USTFCCCA DII T&F Athlete Hall of Fame.
The Norfolk, Virginia native turned into a world-class high jumper during her sophomore year in 1985, which included earning All-American honors in the event.
After that season however, Robinson faced a major setback because of injuries. She had to undergo two major knee surgeries and her track & field career was in great doubt as she tried to fight her way back. She was forced to miss her entire junior year.
She remained focused through rehab and returned for her senior campaign.
Robinson stormed into the NCAA DII Indoor Championships in 1987 and captured the high jump title with a then-NCAA DII record of 1.73m (5-8). She became the first – and only – KSU female athlete in school history to win an individual national title.
Robinson is the third athlete in Kentucky State history to get inducted into the USTFCCCA NCAA DII Track & Field Athlete Hall of Fame, joining Randolph Williams (Class of 2013) and Jim Kempy (2018).
VASHTI THOMAS, ACADEMY OF ART UNIVERSITY
Vashti Thomas might have only competed for two years with Academy of Art but she sure made the time count as she became an 11-time NCAA DII All-American with the program between the indoor and outdoor seasons.
What made the All-American total even more impressive is that she only had one year to do it. Thomas helped lead her program into the ranks of NCAA Division II, which the school earned full-time membership status in July 2012. With only one year to compete at nationals, Thomas set the track ablaze.
Between the 2013 NCAA Division II Indoor & Outdoor Championships, Thomas scored 71¼ points to single-handedly lift the Academy of Art to national team titles in both of those seasons. Thomas amassed 35 points at the indoor meet – punctuated by victories in the 200 and long jump – and 36¼ more at the outdoor meet – stamped by victories in the 100H and long jump.
Her name still dots the NCAA DII record books. Thomas is the NCAA DII record holder in the 100H at 12.70, second all-time in the indoor/outdoor long jump as well as the outdoor 200, third in the indoor 200 and fourth in the 60H, among other marks.
Thomas is the first member of the Academy of Art program to join the USTFCCCA NCAA DII Track & Field Athlete Hall of Fame in school history.