2021 NAIA Women’s Indoor Track & Field Championships – Day 1 Recap
(published by NAIA National Office)
Yankton, S.D. – Wednesday kicked off the first NAIA national championship event during the 2020-21 season. The 41st annual Women’s Indoor Track & Field National Championships was held at Ruth Donohoe Fieldhouse on the campus of Mount Marty (S.D.). Dakota State (S.D.) is the host of the national meet for the third consecutive year.
Day 1 Highlights
- The first day of the national meet features preliminary rounds in 11 different women’s events, starting with three consecutive relays competition in the morning/mid-afternoon session.
- The top two place finishers in each heat plus the next four best times advanced to Friday’s finals. There were two national champions declared on the first day.
- Leondra Correia of Indiana Tech, seeded third prior to this week’s championship in the pentathlon, had a busy day. She was crowned the first national champion of the 2020-21 season. She racked up 3,743 points to capture the pentathlon title, 221 more points from last year’s national meet where she was second.
- NAIA indoor pentathlon defending champion Erin Oleksak of Marian (Ind.) earned a runner-up honor after collecting 3,612 points.
- Correia opened with a lead in the pentathlon after taking first place in the 60-meter hurdles. Oleksak captured the second event in the high jump to overtake the lead.
- Correia regained her lead back after the third event (shot put) and maintained her lead through the long jump and the 800-meters events, finishing 131 points ahead of Oleksak.
- Correia became the first Warrior to win the national pentathlon title in the women’s track and field program.
- She also posted the fastest time in the 60-meter hurdles prelims with a time of 8.65 seconds, edging out Emerald Carter of Xavier (La.) by .04 seconds in the closest race of the day.
- Aniekeme Etim of William Carey (Texas) looks to repeat the 60-meter dash national title Friday. She clocked the fastest prelims time of 7.36 seconds.
- Raheema Westfall of Wayland Baptist (Texas) edged the 200-meters defending champion Etim by .10 seconds in the prelims. Westfall posted a time of 24.45 seconds in the race, followed by Etim with a time of 24.55 seconds.
- Huntington’s (Ind.) Emma Wilson ran in three different races on the first day. She ran the fastest 1-mile run prelims time of 5:08.21. She also anchored the distance medley relay and 4 x 800-meter relay teams that finished second in each race, advancing to the finals on Friday.
- Another close finish was in the 800-meters prelims, where Emma Mott of Bethel (Ind.) turned the fastest time of 2:15.65. Veronica Pinkerton of Hastings (Neb.) was second .08 seconds later (2:15.73).
- The nightcap featured thrilling finishes by a pair of Great Plains Athletic Conference pole vaulters. Both Josie Puelz of Concordia (Neb.) and Abagail Cunningham of Hastings (Neb.) cleared the height of 4.03 meters on the first attempt.
- Both Puelz and Cunningham missed the first two attempts of 4.08 meters (13 feet, 4.75 inches). Puelz was able to clear the height on the last attempt to claim the second national champion of the day.
- Puelz became the second Bulldog indoor pole vaulter champion in school program history since 2003 (Steph Beberniss).
- Three Indiana Tech athletes placed in the ‘Top 5’ in the pentathlon event, racking up 19 points to take an early lead after two events.
- Concordia (Neb.) collected 15 points in the pole vault event to hold a second place in the women’s team standings, followed by Hastings third with 14 points. Marian is fourth with eight points and Carroll (Mont.) is fifth with six points.
The national championships continue Thursday with the men’s division. The heptathlon kicks off the day at 9 a.m. CST. The morning session will include a pair of long-distance relays and continue throughout the day on Friday evening, with the first national champion to be declared in the pole vault.
The women’s division will return on Friday with numerous running finals, as well as field events. The first event kicks off with the 3000-meters racewalk at 9:10 a.m.