By Chandler Harris, Assistant Sports Editor
The men’s track and field team claimed three more automatic qualifying bids to the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field National Championship after competing in two meets Feb. 20 and Feb. 21. Several Wildcats competed in the Nebraska Tune-Up, while others traveled to Norman, Okla., for the Sooner Indoor Open.
“We took a group of all guys to the Nebraska meet, and some of them improved their marks tremendously,” said Don Hood, head track and field coach.
Julius Nyango automatically qualified for the national meet with a time of 1:51.34 in the 800-meter, which was fast enough to win the event. Desmond Jackson won the 60-meter with a time of 6.82 seconds, which improved his previous time and provisionally qualified him for the national meet. Jackson also finished fourth in the 200-meter with a provisional qualifying time of 21.75.
Jordan Johnson improved his time in the 200-meter by placing third in 21.73 and won the 400-meter in 48.12, which is also a provisional qualifying time. Amos Sang won the 5,000-meter and improved his provisional qualifying mark by winning the race in 14:25.14. The distance medley relay team also won its event and improved its provisional qualifying mark by running a time of 10:01.86. The relay team consists of Daniel Maina, Johnson, Jackson and Ramon Radway.
“We also had some other guys hit some marks, such as Daniel Maina in the mile, but it won’t be fast enough to get them in,” Hood said.
The team sent a group of men and women to the Sooner Indoor Open at the Mosier Indoor Facility in Norman, Okla.
Andrew McDowell won the 60-meter hurdles in 7.95 seconds, which not only won him the race but also secured an automatic berth for the national meet. Camille Vandendriessche won the pole vault with a jump of 16 feet, 7.25 inches, high enough to earn an automatic qualification. Vandendriessche had previously qualified for the indoor heptathlon as well.
Nick Jones had his best throw ever in the shot put, 54-10, and won the event, while also improving his provisional qualifying mark.
Wanda Hutson won the 60 meters in 7.48 and Kim Prather ran a personal best of 7.58 to finish third. Jessica Sloss improved her provisional mark in the weight throw with a toss of 55-6.25.
Over the weekend, the Wildcats took four athletes to the NYU Last Chance Meet in New York, N.Y., in an attempt to improve their individual marks.
Cleophas Tanui and Nyango finished first and second, respectively, in the 5,000-meter but did not improve their times like they had hoped, Hood said.
The Wildcats now shift their focus to the NCAA Division II Men’s and Women’s Indoor Track and Field Championships on March 13-14.