The 2015-16 indoor track & field season ended on a high note for HepsNation yesterday, as the Ivy League participants earned a total of 5 First-Team All-American honors over the course of the two day NCAA Indoor Championships in Alabama. HepsNation alumni also wrapped up competition at the USATF Indoor Championships in Oregon yesterday.
First up – Day 2 of the NCAA Championships.
Dartmouth senior Kaitlin Whitehorn capped her indoor career with her first ever First-Team All-American honor in the high jump. Whitehorn finished in a tie for 7th place by clearing 5-11 1/4, the best finish by a Big Green female athlete in a field event. She previously earned Second-Team honors last outdoor season with her 12th place high jump finish at NCAAs.
The men’s mile was a tactical affair as the whole 10 person field was within 0.62 seconds of each other after 1,000m. Penn’s Thomas Awad and Cornell’s James Gowans were near the back of the pack at this point in the race, but once the race began to pick up pace, Awad was one of the few who was able to keep up. Awad tried to chase down the leaders in the final two laps, often running in lanes 2 or 3. In the final 50m, he was able to chase down some of the field and ultimately finished in third place with a time of 4:06.97, 0.34 seconds away from the NCAA title. Awad is the third Ivy male miler to ever finish in the top 3 of the event, joining Harvard’s Cliff Sheehan (2nd – 1986) and Cornell’s Bill Rathbun (3rd – 1990). Gowans finished 9th in the field in 4:08.14, earning Second-Team All-American honors.
Letsrun.com caught up with Awad after his race.
In the women’s 800m final, Princeton senior Cecilia Barowski got out quickly in the first 200m but dropped back to 6th place at the halfway point in a tight pack with the whole finals field. The finals field remained tight in the final laps, so tight that one athlete fell at the bell as the athletes attempted to start their kicks. Barowski finished 6th overall in 2:06.81, earning First-Team All-American honors. Barowski was 0.91 seconds away from the 2nd place finisher.
Our final Ivy competitor of the meet kept flirting with a NCAA title throughout her competition. On her first throw of the women’s shot put final, Harvard junior Nikki Okwelogu shattered her conference record (56-02) with a 14-inch new personal best, 57-04 3/4, that put her at the top of the leader board. At the end of the preliminary round, she sat in second place, only 1-inch behind the leader. Okwelogu jumped to the top of the leader board on her fourth throw, improving over 6-inches to 57-11 1/4. But by the end of the fifth round, Okwelogu was bumped back to third place overall. At the end of the competition, Okwelogu finished third with 57-11 1/4 to earn her second First-Team All-American honor, improving from her 6th place finish from last year.
Over in Oregon, a few HepsNation athletes competed on Day 2 of the USATF Indoor Championships. John Gregorek competed in the 1,500m finals. Like many 1,500m finals, it was a tactical affair as the 11 person field remained a tight group through the first 800m. Gregorek was near the back of the pack at the halfway point. The field began to spread as the top four began to break away, and slowly, Gregorek moved up on the field. While he did not catch that leading four, he improved over the course of the final 400m from 9th to 5th, finishing with a time of 3:47.28.
Morgan Uceny was on the start list for the women’s 1,500m final but did not start.
The only other HepsNation competitor on Day 2 was Danielle Barbian. The Harvard grad finished 14th in the 60m semifinals with a 7.41. The top 8 advanced to the final. Barbian will be representing Oregon this upcoming outdoor season as she finishes her NCAA eligibility.
The 2016 indoor track & field season will officially end next weekend with the IAAF World Championships, while the collegiates will transition to the outdoor season over the course of this next week.
photo by Michael Scott