Duhawks take top tiers at indoor national meet
Loras College track and field athletes polished off their indoor season with an outstanding showing at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field National Championship in Birmingham, AL.
In total, the Duhawks qualified 10 athletes for the Championships. Heading into the national competition, the Duhawk men were ranked 13th in the nation, while the women were ranked 22nd.
Out of the performances by Duhawk athletes, the most notable was sophomore Patrick Mikel’s National Champion performance in the 400m.
In the preliminaries, Mikel’s run was good enough to qualify for the finals as a third seed.
In the finals, Mikel led the field with the fastest opening lap, and held his pace as he finished in 47.74, .14 seconds faster than the second place finisher. Mikel came into Nationals holding the school record in the 400m, and came within .18 seconds of breaking that record once again. Mikel is the first National Champion for Duhawk athletics since 2014.
Senior Mason Tope took to the national stage after running a 20 second personal best at the Wartburg qualifiers to get him to Nationals. Tope’s time was good for 13th in the nation after the qualifier. That is why, when Tope finished forth in the nation in the 5,000m, he shocked the field.
“Mason ran a traditional Loras race,” said Head Coach Bob Schultz. “He kept his cool early, ran his pace and as guys slowed and faded, he did a great job passing and moving up.”
Tope finished with All-American honors, which has been a trend for him in his decorated Loras career.
Mikel and Tope accounted for 15 of the Loras men’s 18 points at the National Championships. The other three points came from the men’s 4x400m relay, consisting of Shamari Scott, Tyson Morrison, Anakin Hall and Mikel. After earning the last spot in the finals with their preliminary performance, the team achieved All-American honors with a sixth place finish in the finals. The solid finish was no surprise for the talented squad, as they had found themselves within the top five in the nation during a majority of the indoor season.
A final score of 18 points was good for ninth place in the nation for Loras men’s track and field, which is a continued move up from their 13th position last week. The Loras men showed up at Nationals with everything to prove and left Birmingham with one of the best individual and team performances in Duhawk Track and Field history.
On the women’s side, sophomore Gabrielle Noland achieved her first All-American honor by finishing sixth in the 200m. After an indoor season in which Noland saw herself consistently towards the top of the nation, the sixth place finish was an outstanding conclusion to her sophomore indoor season. Her finish gave the women’s team their three points of the national competition.
Junior Bella Solis put together a solid performance in the high jump as well, clearing 1.65m on her first try. Solis tied for an All-American podium position, but lost the tie-breaker because her opponent cleared 1.60m on their first try, while it took Solis two attempts to clear the mark. Nonetheless, her performance was another great representation for the Duhawks.
“It was a fun and exciting weekend,” said Schultz. “We are very proud of our athletes who stepped it up on that stage.”
Duhawk track and field will now look ahead to the outdoor season, ready to capitalize on an outstanding representation at the Indoor National Championships.