By Chandler Harris, Assistant Sports Editor
The men and women’s track teams had another successful weekend in which they added four more automatic qualifiers and three provisional qualifiers to an already long list headed to the NCAA Division II National Championship meet in March. The teams competed in the Texas Tech Invitational in Lubbock and had three athletes win their respective event.
“I was really pleased because the whole team looked tired going into the competition, but they competed real well,” said Don Hood, head track and field coach. “I am very proud of their effort.”
On the men’s side, Camille Vandendriessche won the indoor heptathlon with a total of 5,453 points and clinched an automatic qualifying berth for the national meet. He had personal bests in four of the seven heptathlon events, Hood said.
“Camille had a pretty good weekend,” Hood said. “It was unbelievable how well he performed, and he was honestly the highlight of the week. He made it look effortless, and it was just a fun competition for him.”
Landon Ehlers won the pole vault event with a mark of 16 feet and 6.75 inches, good enough for an automatic qualifying berth to the national meet. Cory Altenberg and Aaron Cantrell finished second and fourth, respectively, in the event. Altenberg already had automatically qualified during a previous meet, and Cantrell’s mark of 15-9.00 was enough to provisionally qualify him for the national meet.
Hood said both Ramon Radway and Jordan Johnson improved their provisional qualifying statuses and they now rank ninth and 11th in the 400-meter national standings, respectively.
The women’s squad also showed signs of improvement as Wanda Hutson, who had already automatically qualified, won the 55-meters in 6.96 seconds. Kim Prather improved to fourth in the nation in the 200-meters with a time 24.26 seconds, placing second in the event.
Callie Young improved to ninth in the nation with a clearance of 12-3.5 inches in the women’s pole vault and should have a good shot at qualifying, Hood said.
Kelli Clements automatically qualified in the shot put with a throw of 47-0.75, which places her third in the nation thus far.
The teams were scheduled to compete in Arkansas this weekend but decided instead to travel to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., for a meet on Friday and Saturday.
“Hopefully this week all of our distance runners will compete, and we can get some others qualified,” Hood said. “We are hoping to have three or four distance guys qualify, and Loice Cheboi also has a good shot at making it.”
Hood said the men’s squad also intends to have three men qualify in the 200-meter, and the men’s distance medley relay will also have a good shot at qualifying.