The Seawolves Indoor Track and Field set a team record by sending 14 individuals to the NCAA Championships over the weekend of March 11-12. The athletes competed in a total of 13 races and two relays in Pittsburg, Kansas.
Since the 2012-13 season, when UAA first fielded an indoor Track and Field squad, the Seawolves have qualified multiple athletes for nationals.
Heading into the meet, the UAA’s women’s team was ranked seventh in the U.S. Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association national poll, while the men’s team sat at No. 18.
On opening day of competition, the Seawolves assembled seven All-America honors [top-10 finishes]. An impressive performance by senior Joyce Chelimo earned her runner-up in the women’s 5,000 meter, coming in just over a second behind Amanda Farrough of Lewis Univiersity.
“I was trying to chase her down and gain speed to win,” Chelimo said. “But I’m glad I came in second, I tried really hard.”
Chelimo, from Kapsowar, Kenya, crossed the finish line at 16:10.32, a UAA and conference record, as well as the fourth best time in Division II history.
The Seawolves also got a strong showing on the men’s side of the 5-kilometer. Dominik Notz gained ground in the final two laps and placed fourth in the contest for his second-career All-America honor.
The women’s distance medley relay team of Jessica Pahkala, Mary-Kathleen Cross, Tamara Perez and Caroline Kurgat also had a fourth place result. The four-person squad set a school record with a time of 11:31.21, breaking the previous best set in 2013.
After one day of events, the women’s team sat in third place overall, while the men’s group was looking up from the 14th spot.
UAA added four more All-American performances on the second and final day, totaling 11 over the weekend, a school best. Receiving his third-career honor was senior Cody Thomas, who set a Great Northwest Athletic Conference record with 5,538 points in the heptathlon, just one point shy of the runner-up.
“I had a go at it, gave it everything, so I have no regrets.” said the New Zealander, who is now focused on the Outdoor Track and Field season. “I plan on getting my knee better. We are heading out to Texas to do the [Texas Relays], so I hoping to qualify and have a bit of fun there as well while doing it, and get better over the season.”
Notching the eighth All-America award of her career, Karolin Anders took seventh in the pentathlon, including second in the high jump with a leap of five feet and seven inches.
“This [pentathlon] was the hardest meet I have had mentally. I’ve had hard meets before but this one wasn’t going my way from the beginning,” said Anders.
Prior to this season, one event that UAA had never participated in at the national level was the men’s 4×400 meter relay. Seawolves Nicholas Taylor, Liam Lindsay, Travis Turner and Adam Commandeur changed that, and finished 12th at the meet.
The women’s team fell to ninth place at the close of the second day, but it was still the best the school has ever finished. The men’s side remained in 14th, placing better than their rank heading into the meet.
Over the course of the regular season, GNAC, and NCAA championships, the Indoor Track and Field team broke over 20 school records. The outdoor season is already underway, with the Seawolves heading to the Willamette Invitational in Salem, Oregon on March 26.