Missourians shooting for Titles at 2017 DI Outdoor Track Champs

Missourians set for shot at National titles at DI TF Championships

June 7, 2017

Chris Auckley

MOTrackFanatic @ outlook.com



Twenty-six Missouri athletes who are Missouri natives, competed at Missouri high schools, or compete or previously competed at Missouri colleges will compete at the 2017 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Oregon’s Hayward Field. This year marks the fifth of 10 straight years the meet will be held in Eugene, Or. It will be about the third year the meet sexes compete on separate days, except for the multi-events. The men open competition on Wednesday as the Decathlon also kicks off. The decathlon will conclude Thursday, while the rest of the men’s events wrap up Friday. The women compete Thursday and Saturday, while the heptathlon is held Friday and Saturday. The top 12 finishers in each event at the East and West Regionals two weeks ago, qualify to nationals, while the top-24 individuals in the multi-events got to skip regionals, and qualify straight to nationals.

Two Missourians will look to secure their second straight NCAA titles after winning an event at the NCAA Division I Indoor Championships in March in Texas. Mizzou junior Karissa Schweizer (Urbandale, Ia.) will look for her third national title after winning the cross country title in the fall, and the 5k title indoors. Kansas City native and University of South Dakota freshman Chris Nilsen (Park Hill HS) seeks the pole vault title after winning indoors.

Schweizer will run the 5k, where she took third last year. Indoors, Schweizer blasted the final 400-meters at the NCAA Championships for the victory, clocking a 15:19 mark, moving her into the top 5 in collegiate indoor history, and giving he the world championships standard. Outdoors, Schweizer ran a 15:39.75 at the Stanford Invitational on March 31, which puts her fourth on the Division I regular season performance list.

Nilsen, captured the NCAA Indoor title in the pole vault in his first NCAA meet. He also set the USATF Under-20 record with his season best of 18-9.5. Nilsen saw his U.S. high school record go down to high school superstar Mondo Duplantis, who represents his mother’s native country of Sweden, but is tops on the performance list by 1.25’’ over three athletes, including Akron sophomore Matt Ludwig, who was a standout at Mizzou last year.

For the second straight year, San Diego State University junior Ashley Henderson (Hazelwood Central HS) has qualified for the 100, 200, and 4×100-meter sprint events. Henderson took second in the 100 at last year’s meet while also earning first-time All-American honors in the 4×100. Henderson followed up her first NCAA meet up last year with an appearance in the Olympic Trials in the 200-meter dash. Henderson sits tied for sixth on the DI regular season performance list this season with an 11.08 clocking, while running an 11.01 wind-legal mark at regionals. Henderson sits 12th on the 200-meter performance list with a 22.61 clocking. SDSU’s 4×100 sits sixth with a 43.11 time.

Two former high school distance running rivals will compete in Eugene. The pair were high school cross country All-Americans and both earned their first NCAA All-American honors last November with their finishes at cross country nationals. Former Festus high school standout Jamie Kempfer will run the 10k for Mizzou Thursday. The redshirt sophomore broke teammate Kaitlyn Fischer’s school record with her 33:09.67 10k time at the Stanford Invitational on March 31. That time puts the SEC 10k champion fourth on the regular season performance list.

Former Ste. Genevieve high school cross country All-American at Foot Locker and Nike Cross Nationals, Taylor Werner will run the 5k for Arkansas. The true freshman was 16th at the cross country championships last fall, and ran the 5k and the distance medley relay mile leg at the NCAA DI Indoor meet in March. Werner placed second to Kempfer in the SEC 10k last month. Werner’s 15:51 5k clocking from Bryan Clay Invite in California in April puts her 14th on the performance list.

Former Francis Howell High School do it all Whitey Adams finishes her career for Kansas with a second straight NCAA appearance. The former Missouri Class 4 400-meter state champion earned first team All-American honors at her first NCAA meet indoors in March, running the 800-meter leg of the distance medley relay. Adams set a personal record of 2:05.30 to place 11th at the west regional and qualify to nationals.

Mizzou women sprinters have multiple entries for the second straight year, but under former Mizzou All-American and Olympic medalist Natasha Kaiser-Brown as coach, taking over the women’s sprints and hurdles duties as Carjay Lyles just focuses on the men now. Valerie Thames qualified to NCAA’s last year in the 100 and 300 hurdles, as well as the 4×400 last year. This year, Thames, the Milwaukee native and school record holder in both hurdle races, qualified in the 400 hurdles, getting the last spot in the west region.

Mizzou’s 4×100 will try to improve on their 13th-place finish from last year. Maya Cody (St. Louis, Lutheran South HS), Sandrae Farquharson, LaQuisha Jackson, and Tsai-Anne Joseph will look to earn Kaiser-Brown’s first All-American honors as a coach in her second stint at Mizzou. Former Hazelwood East state champion Tianna Valentine will compete in her second NCAA meet. Valentine’s endured many injuries in her time at KU, but ran the 4×100 at the 2014 meet. She’ll do so again this year.

After just missing the championships in 2016 as a freshman, former McCluer North MO State Meet recorder holder Jasmine Barge made it this year. The Nebraska sophomore long hurdler got the second to last spot in the 400-meter hurdles at the west region. Barge’s 57.68 regular season time, put her 21st on the national list. Barge took fifth in the event at the Big 10 championships, and added a 6th place finish in the 100 hurdles, and 3rd in the 4×400.

Illinois native Alyssa Applebee earned first-team All-American honors in the pole vault at last year’s meet for Mizzou. After a coaching change, Applebee ended up at Tulane. She’ll take her 14-0 personal best mark into nationals, which puts her 17th on the regular season performance list.

Former Wentzville Holt high school star Nataliyah Friar is set for her final collegiate meet. Friar has qualified for six NCAA meets for LSU in primarily the long and triple jump, with one 4×100 qualification. Friar has earned two NCAA Trophy (top 8 finish) including a 3rd place finish in the long jump with a PR of 21-0 at the 2015 indoor meet, and a sixth-place triple jump finish outdoors in 2015. Friar just missed two other trophies with two ninth-place finishes in the long jump as well.  Friar’s PR in the triple jump is 43-10, while her season bests are 20-11.25, and a wind-aided 43-7.25. Friar go the final national spot in the east triple jump, and the second to last spot in the long jump at the east regional.

Illinois native and Mizzou redshirt sophomore Gabi Jacobs won the SEC discus title last month, then took fifth in the west to qualify for her first NCAA meet. Jacobs threw 185-7 at SECs for a PR, then topped that with a 191-0 mark at regionals. Jacobs almost got to nations for head coach Brett Halter and first year shot, disc, and weight throws coach Ross Richardson. Jacobs threw a PR of 51-9.25 for 17th.

Former Festus high school star Breanne Borman is set for her final college meet. Borman, a standout multi-eventer like her sister Brittany, a 2012 and 2016 Olympian in the javelin, makes her NCAA outdoor meet debut, and third NCAA overall apperance. Borman earned two second-team All-American honors at the last two NCAA Division I Indoor meets in the pentathlon. Borman sits 15th on the regular season performance list in the heptathlon with a PR score of 5640 points in winning the Missouri Valley Conference title. Borman did compete at regionals in the javelin, with a 43rd place finish with a 133-1 toss.

Besides Nilsen, nine other Missouri men will compete. After a coaching change at Mizzou, Ohio native Matt Ludwig headed home and is now at Akron, after making the NCAA meet last year in the pole vault. He set a school record with a 17-11 clearance last year. He was a first-time All-American indoors in the vault, and will look to do so outdoors.
After qualifying for the high jump as a freshman, Nebraska junior Landon Bartel makes his third NCAA appearance. The former 7-0 jumper and state champion for Southern Boone County high school in Ashland, MO., Bartel competed on Team USA at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships. Bartel sits tied for ninth on the regular season performance list with a 7-2.5 clearance in taking second at the Big 10 meet. Bartel won the Big 10 title indoors in 2016, and will look to improve on his 20th-place NCAA finish in 2015, and his 14th– place finish indoors in 2016.

After a great high school career at Blue Springs high school, Justin Hall took his jumping talents to Texas Tech. The freshman qualified for his first NCAA meet in the long jump. Hall sits sixth on the performance list with his 26-3.5 mark at a meet at TCU in April, which produced five of the top six marks in the regular season. Hall earned his first Big 12 honor with his fifth-place long jump finish outdoors. Hall took fourth at the West Regionals with a 25-7.5. His new long jump PR is more than 2’ 2’’ better than his high school best.

Former Timberland state champion thrower Josh McDonald squeaked into the NCAA meet last year taking the last spot at regionals and ended up taking 21st in the discus for Wisconsin. This year, the redshirt junior got the last spot in the shot put. McDonald was clutch, earning a season best of 59-7 at regionals to earn a second straight trip to nationals. McDonald has PR’s of 60-0.5 for the shot indoors, and 189-11 in the discus.

For the second time in three years, Brett Halter coaches two men to the NCAA meet in the javelin for Mizzou, and at least one for the fourth straight year. Junior Alex Pascal makes his second NCAA meet in three years, while Reinhard Van Zyl makes his second straight appearance. Van Zyl, a South Africa native and former JUCO national champ, was second at SECs with a PR of 77.20m/253-3 mark and third at regionals last month. That mark puts him 4th on the pre-regional performance list. He’ll try to improve on his 13th place finish from last year. Pascal, a Cayman Islands native, was eighth at SECs and fifth at regionals. He took 24th at NCAAs in 2015. He sits 59th on the regular season list, but threw a 13-foot season best at regionals.

On the track, former Cardinal Ritter superstar Charles Jones has qualified for his first NCAA meet in an individual event for the Texas Tech junior. The former 400/800-meter star continues to shine at those distances. “CJ” has earned three first-team All-American trophies in the 4×400 for the Red Raiders and made almost every NCAA meet he’s been eligible for in the relay. Jones won the Big 12 800-meters at the 2016 conference meet. He’s set personal record in the 400: 46.63, and 800: 1:46.70, this year. Jones will run both the 800 and the 4×400. Jones sits 10th on the regular season performance list in the 800, and seventh in the 4×400.

After his first NCAA meet in the fall at the cross country championships, former Truman High School (Independence) All-Stater Cole Rockhold tore up the track indoors for Colorado State. The redshirt sophomore went sub-4 in the mile, and placed sixth in the 3k at the NCAA Indoor meet for his first All-American trophy. Outdoors, Rockhold has gone 13:52 in the 5k and 3:41.04 1500 for a 3:58 mile equivalent. Rockhold choose to compete in the 5k at regionals and advanced with an eighth-place 14:34 time at the West Regional.

Former McCluer North state champion hurdler Aaron Mallet will compete in his sixth and final NCAA meet for Iowa. Mallet has four All-American trophies (top 8 finish), all from the high hurdles: 60-meters indoors, and 110-meters outdoors. Mallet sits fifth on the performance list with a 13.47 and his Hawkeyes 4×100 squad is 21st. Mallet finished 22nd at last year’s Olympic trials. Mallet and teammates will look to improve upon 12th and 16th place finishes in the 4×100 the last two years. Mallet has made one U.S. Team, taking third in the 110 hurdles at the 2016 North American Central American Caribbean Under-23 Championships in El Salvador.


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