First-Team for Smith & Three to NCAA Finals

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HepsNation qualified three athletes to their Saturday night finals and got our first First-Team All-American of the meet.

Harvard sophomore Courtney Smith earned her first All-American accolades with her eighth place finish in the women’s 5,000m final in 16:04.86.  Smith stayed near the back of the large pack for the first third of the race.  At the halfway point, she was in 10th place, 10 seconds back of the leader and eventual winner Molly Seidel of Notre Dame.  Even with 1km to go, Smith had to battle for First-Team contention as she was even with Hannah Everson of Air Force who was in eighth place at that mark.  Smith got some help on the final lap though from Liberty’s Ednah Kurgat and Penn State’s Tessa Barrett.  Kurgat and Barrett – who were 5th and 6th at the bell – miscounted their laps and stopped one lap early.  While Liberty and Penn State supporters were trying to convince their athletes to keep going, Smith – who was ninth at the bell – picked up the pace and powered on her final lap to finished eighth overall and secure First-Team honors.  Kurgat managed to recover to finish in ninth place while Barrett ended up eleventh.  Seidel’s winning time of 15:15.21 was within 3 seconds of the NCAA collegiate record.

Three more athletes have the chance to earn First-Team honors tonight.  In the men’s mile, Penn’s Thomas Awad and Cornell’s James Gowans earned automatic berths in their respective heats.  In heat 1, Awad got the fastest final 400m of the night to finish second in his heat in 4:07.51, 0.01 seconds back of heat winner Jonah Koech of UTEP.  Gowans grabbed the final auto berth in heat 2 by having the fastest final 200m of the night, finishing in 4:09.50, 0.06 seconds head of the cut-off.  Columbia’s Rob Napolitano was in heat 2 with Gowans and finished seventh in the heat with 4:11.78.  Napolitano finished 14th overall.  In the women’s 800m, Cecilia Barowski had an exciting final lap as she had the fastest final 200m in her heat and stole the win from Hampton’s Ce’aira Brown and Stanford’s Olivia Baker.  Barowski’s time was 2:04.44 – the third fastest preliminary time of the night.

Letsrun.com got post-race interviews with all three of these finalists.

In other events,  Northeast Male Indoor Field Eventer of the Year Rudy Winkler of Cornell finished 0.18m away from making the weight throw finals as only top 9 advanced.  Winkler was tenth after the preliminary round with a best throw of 20.67m (67-09 3/4), which was good enough for Second-Team  honors.  Yale’s Frances Schmiede finished seventh in her women’s mile preliminary heat with a time of 4:40.71, ultimately finishing 13th overall.  Former Princeton athlete Andrea Keklak cruised to an auto berth for the women’s mile final and later helped her Georgetown distance medley relay team to win the national title over Washington and Stanford.  Columbia alum Daniel Everett finished 10th in the men’s 5,000m final, running 14:00.67 to grab Second-Team honors for Iowa State.

NCAA Indoor Championship action concludes tonight with Dartmouth’s Kaitlin Whitehorn (who is the Northeast Female Indoor Field Eventer of the Year) and Harvard’s Nikki Okwelogu joining Awad, Gowans, and Barowski in the quest to earn First-Team honors.

photo by Patrick Wales Dinan

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