Ramon Sparks triple-jumped his way to victory and propelled the ACU men’s track team to a third-place finish at the NCAA Division II indoor championship meet.
While the men enjoyed success in Albuquerque, the women came away disappointed with a 13th-place finish.
“Even though we wanted to come out with a victory, we are happy with a third-place finish,” said senior heptathlete James Hardin. “We only brought six guys, and they got all-American.”
Sparks’ first jump put him in the lead, where he stayed for the rest of the meet. His fifth jump of 52-3 1/4 was enough to win the triple jump by about half a foot over Kiara Jones of Pittsburg State.
“We really felt he could win the jump,” said Head Coach Roosevelt Lofton. “He was the guy to beat all along.”
Defending indoor 60-meter hurdles champion Andrew McDowell missed a repeat title by two one-hundredths of a second when he was caught at the line by Jeremy Jackson of Pittsburg State.
McDowell and Sparks had some help from sprinter Desmond Jackson on their way to third place. Jackson finished third in both the 50 and 200-meter sprints, earning ACU 6 points for each finish.
Traditionally a long-distance powerhouse, Adams State took home the National Championship, despite scoring in only six of the 16 events. Adams had runners place in the top five positions in the mile, and in the 5,000-meters, they took first through seventh place with the exception of third – ACU’s Amos Sang stole that spot. Those two events earned Adams State enough points to grab at least second, and points in four other events secured the first-place victory.
The ACU women weren’t nearly as successful, with only three athletes earning points: Wanda Hutson finished fourth in the 60-meter dash, Jessica Withrow finished sixth in the triple jump and Jessica Blair took home fourth in the pole vault. Lincoln won its second consecutive women’s indoor championship by edging Ashland and Grand Valley State in the last event to win the title.
ACU track will have another shot at a national title when it competes in the NCAA Division II outdoor championships.
“We are definitely going to have a better shot at winning outdoor,” Hardin said. “We are a whole different team when it comes to outdoor.”