Maroons Race Their Way to Four All-American Honors

At the NCAA Championships, the women’s track and field competed and excelled in many events, especially the 4×400 relay.

By Cavell Means

The women’s track and field team had a productive weekend, finishing up the season in the NCAA National Championship in Dayton, OH. On the last day, four All-Americans were crowned, with the 4×400 relay team of first-year Alisha Harris, second-year Emma Koether, and fourth-years Eleanor Kang and Michelle Dobbs. In addition to their success, various other athletes placed and succeeded in events throughout the weekend.

The events started on Thursday with the preliminary races and the first half of the heptathlon. In the prelims, third-year Megan Verner-Crist showed out, finishing six spots above her 16th seed, qualifying alongside 11 other racers for the finals. The 4×400 relay team snuck into the finals, nabbing the ninth spot. On the other hand, the 4×100 relay team, which kept Kang and Harris and added first-year Mary Martin and third-year Charissa Newkirk, missed out on the finals by a mere 0.02 seconds. Outside of relays, first-year Laura Darcey and third-year Olivia Cattau took part in the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, and 200-meter in the heptathlon. After the first day, Darcey was in 14th place with 2,607 points, and Cattau had 2,566 points, good enough for 17th place. 

On Saturday, the women picked up where they left off, finishing up two events in the finals. Third-year Ade Ayoola started out the day with the women’s high jump. She leaped 1.62m, good enough for 16th place in the final. The winner of the event, Emma Egan, a first-year from Williams, jumped 1.76m. Later in the day was the conclusion of the women’s heptathlon. The final events in that category were the long jump, javelin, and the 800-meter. Out of the 22 competitors, Cattau ended up 14th with 4,409 points, while Darcey finished with 16th place with 4,334 points. For comparison, the winner of the heptathlon, Kylee Bartlett, a second-year from Rochester, had 5,020 points. 

By the time Sunday came around, there were two races left in the tournament. In addition to the 4×400-meter relay, Verner-Crist also had to race in the 1,500-meter. Koether, Harris, Kang, and Dobbs together ran a time of 3:48.31 in their 4×400 final, which was good enough for eighth place. This was not far from the winning team of Nebraska Wesleyan, who took first with a time of 3:41.25. In the other race of the day for the Maroons, Verner-Crist won 11th place, with a time of 4:43.47 in the 1,500-meter. The best time for that event went to Emily Richards from Ohio Northern University, as the third-year notched a time of 4:23.87. 

For the championships as a whole, the victory went to Wash U, as they amassed a dominant 56 points, with the closest competitor, Ithaca College, gaining only 37 points. UChicago had only one point, but their fierce competition and incredible passion in practice and in the heat of the moment cannot be overlooked. 

“It was really a comeback,” Harris said. “We originally didn’t make it to finals due to a mishap on my part but we got a second chance due a turn of fate and our coach advocating for us. I’m so proud of our team for pulling together and performing the way we did. I wasn’t on the 4×4 throughout the regular season and was added on to it during the final last chance meet because one of our legs qualified for nationals in the heptathlon. It was a great turn of events that allowed for 10 women to go to nationals and I’m so proud of us.”

This concludes the track season for the women’s team. Cross country will begin in September, while indoor will start in January and outdoor in April.