In their final attempt to qualify for the NCAA DIII National Championships, the Maroons competed at the North Central College Gregory Invitational this past Thursday and Friday in Naperville, IL.
Collectively, the men and women earned an impressive 13 top-10 finishes in a field of competitors that included athletes from DI, DII, and DIII schools from across the region.
On the women’s side, third-year Brianna Hickey was the top DIII finisher in the 1,500-meter, placing second overall in the event with a time of 4:31:08. First-year Ade Ayoola demonstrated her consistency for the Maroons yet again, as she tied for second in the high jump at 1.69m. Her performance places her in the top 15 in the nation for the high jump, an impressive standing for anyone, let alone a first-year.
Second-year Michelle Dobbs switched up her usual routine by competing in the 400-meter instead of the 800-meter, where she has already proven her abilities. With a time of 57.09, she finished fifth, demonstrating her impressive versatility on the track.
On the field, fourth-year Reecie Dern placed sixth in the shot put with a throw of 11.71m, while Ayoola placed seventh in the event.
Speaking of her team’s performance on the weekend, Dern said, “I think a lot of individual goals were met, and our national qualifiers really had some exceptional performances that secured their ranking. As a team, we are incredibly proud to support our teammates who will be representing us at nationals. Overall I think everyone is pleased with a really stellar year of track and field that we had as a team.”
For the men, second-year Temisan Osowa, third-year Jacob Romeo, third-year Ben Clark, and first-year Obinnaya Wamuo placed sixth in the 4x100-meter relay with a time of 41.58. Second-year Nicholas Nielsen placed seventh in the 1500-meter at 3:47:09, while fellow second-year Andrew Maneval took eighth in the javelin at 48.17m.
Those who qualified will head to New York for the NCAA DIII National Championships, which start on Thursday.
“Most of us have finished our seasons but for the athletes going to nationals they will be making those final tweaks and resting up for the big meet,” Dern said. “So few athletes are able to go to nationals, so they have to really focus in on their own personal goals and training. As a team we try to support them as best we can!”
Although every athlete ultimately hopes to qualify for the national meet, all of the South Siders have much to be proud of on the year. The women captured the UAA title in both the indoor and outdoor seasons, while the men placed third in the outdoor and second in the indoor season. And with so much young talent, the future looks bright for both the men’s and women’s squads.
The national meet will begin this Thursday and continue through Saturday in Canton, NY.