The 2017 NCAA Division III Indoor Track & Field Championships concluded on Saturday (3/11) afternoon at the Al. B Carius Track on the campus of North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. Following the two days of competition, seven student-athletes from the NCAC posted All-American performances, highlighted by a pair of national championship efforts.
The first national title performance came in the women’s shot put on Saturday morning when Oberlin junior Monique Newton (Sacramento, CA/Rancho Cordova) met the challenge of having the nation’s top qualifying effort in the event with a school-record heave of 51’00.75” on her fifth and final attempt. Newton is now the first female athlete in Oberlin history to win a national title and the first track & field athlete to win a national championship since Bill Keller earned the crown in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 1963.
A little over two hours later, Ohio Wesleyan freshman Cirrus Robinson (Ashland, OH/Ashland) topped the field in the women’s high jump in her first-career appearance at an NCAA Championship meet. Robinson cleared 5’07.75” to take the national title. She cleared her first five heights to move to the top of the standings, and when the bar went to 5’08.75”, only Robinson and Emma Egan of Williams were left. Both competitors missed all 3 attempts at that height, but Robinson won the national title based on a lower number of missed attempts. Robinson is now the second female in school history to win an individual national championship in track & field, joining Julie Bredenbeck who won the national title in the discus in 1982.
Four additional NCAC female student-athletes logged All-American performances at the national meet, led by Ohio Wesleyan senior Sarah Fowler (Fredericktown, OH/Fredericktown) finishing in the top-eight in the 5,000-meter run for the second year in a row in fourth-place with a school-record time of 16:54.38.
Denison sophomore sprinter Ajai Brooks (Washington, D.C./Washington Latin Public Charter) secured her second-career All-American effort at the indoor nationals by finishing seventh in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.74 seconds. Brooks also finished 14th overall in the 200-meter prelims on Friday with a time of 25.38 seconds.
A pair of Oberlin throwers also climbed the podium in Illinois with eight-place finishes in their respective events, including junior Ana Richardson (Eugene, OR/South Eugene) in the weight throw with a school-record toss of 58’01.00” and freshman Naeisha McClain (Columbus, GA/Brookstone) in the shot put with a heave of 45’07.25”.
On the men’s side, Ohio Wesleyan junior Nate Newman (Chillicothe, OH/Zane Trace) posted the NCAC’s lone All-American performance by finishing fifth overall in the heptathlon with 4,921 points. His top individual effort within the heptathlon came in the 60-meter hurdles on Saturday morning when he finished fourth overall with a time of 8.62 seconds.
Allegheny senior Dan Cheung (Northbrook, IL/Glenbrook North) narrowly missed out on climbing the All-American podium in the men’s 5,000-meter run after finishing ninth overall with a time of 14:36.52. In addition, Oberlin junior Lilah Drafts-Johnson (Melrose, MA/Melrose) finished 14th in the women’s 400-meter prelims on Friday with a time of 57.67 seconds, while Denison junior Hannah Hall (New Richmond, OH/New Richmond) placed 15th overall in the women’s high jump with a mark of 5’05.00”.