The NCAA Championship Committee announced last night the official qualifiers for the 2016 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships that will be held in Birmingham, Alabama on March 11th and 12th. Nine HepsNation undergrads and two former HepsNation athletes qualified and have declared their intent to compete next week.
The men’s mile will once again be loaded with Ivy athletes as Thomas Awad (Penn), James Gowans (Cornell), and Rob Napolitano (Columbia) have been selected for the field. All three of these men broke the 4:00 mile barrier for the first time this year, resulting in massive rewriting of the Ivy League all-time listing. Awad is the #2 seed – the highest seed for an Ivy athlete for this championships. Gowans is the #9 seed while Napolitano is seeded #16. Napolitano was the final qualifier with his time of 3:58.98. These are the only Ivy men who qualified for a track event.
Yale’s Frances Schmiede also was rewarded with a NCAA berth after she set a new mile personal best twice this season. She is the #15 seed. All of the runners in this field needed to run their mile faster than 4:38 in order to make the cut. Joining Schmiede on the track at NCAAs will be Princeton’s Cecilia Barowski (800m – #3 seed) and Harvard’s Courtney Smith (5,000m – #10 seed).
Harvard’s Nikki Okwelogu and Dartmouth’s Kaitilin Whitehorn will be returning to NCAAs for a second time. Whitehorn’s new personal best of 6-00 1/2 that she set at Indoor Heps moved her into qualifying potential for the high jump, resulting in a #12 seed. Whitehorn last competed at an NCAA Indoor Championships back in 2014. Okwelogu – who earned All-American status in the indoor shot put last year – also set a new season’s best at Indoor Heps, resulting in her getting the #12 seed.
Cornell’s Rudy Winkler made the indoor cut for the first time in his collegiate career. His 74-10 1/2 throw from earlier this year gives him the #3 seed in the weight throw. He earned First-Team All-American accolades last year in the hammer throw.
Meanwhile, two former Ivy Leaguers will be competing at NCAAs for other schools. Former Columbia runner Waverly Neer qualified in the women’s 5,000m run for Oregon, while former Princeton runner Andrea Keklak is scheduled to run the DMR and mile run for Georgetown.