It came down to the final event, but the Lincoln women’s track & field team won the 2016 NCAA Division II Indoor Championship in record-breaking style on Saturday (March 12). In the process, the Blue Tigers won their fifth-ever NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championship, and their 12th national title overall.
The Blue Tigers led the team standing, 50-35, with just two track events remaining. Hillsdale made a big comeback in the penultimate event, placed first, second and fourth in the 3,000m. That pulled Hillsdale ahead, 58-50, over Lincoln with only the 4x400m relay remaining.
With the Blue Tigers trailing by eight, Lincoln needed to come in second in the relay to tie Hillsdale or first to win. Willomena Williams led off the relay and passed the baton to Jhevere Hall. By the time Hall handed the baton to Kissi-Ann Brown for the third leg of the race, the Blue Tigers were in second behind runners from Johnson C. Smith. Brown, however, ran fast and hard to pull even with the leading runner entering the final handoff, and Venicha Baker out-ran Johnson C. Smith’s runner to win the relay.
Lincoln ended up winning the 4x400m relay with a time of 3:38.87, the fastest ever in the history of the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships. The Blue Tigers broke the old record time of 3:39.24 which, fittingly enough, was set by Lincoln in 1997. As a result, the Blue Tigers finished with 60 team points, edging Hillsdale (58). Grand Valley State claimed third with 33 points.
LU produced nine All-American performances, including two by Yanique Ellington, who defended her title in the 200m. The 2015 national champion in that event, Ellington won the 200m again this year with a time of 23.62. Baker also earned All-American honors in the 200m, finishing as the national runner-up in 23.65.
Ellington also earned All-American distinction in the 60m, finishing third with a time of 7.43. Baker, meanwhile, earned three All-American honors. In addition to garnering the accolades in the 4x400m relay and the 200m, Baker finished fifth in the 400m at 53.67. Brown also was an All-American in the 400m, clocking in at 54.92 to place seventh.
Hall additionally was a multiple All-American, as she also finished fifth in the 800m. Hall timed in at 2:08.34 in that event. For the second year in a row, Lincoln also won the national title in the 60m hurdles, with Chrisdale McCarthy producing the winning time of 8.37. Ladonna Richards, who was the national champion in 2015, finished third this year in 8.47.
Also representing Lincoln on Saturday was Jonelle Campbell, who placed 12th in the triple jump with a distance of 11.97m.
The Blue Tigers won their fifth national championship in indoor track & field, as Lincoln had also won the national title in 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2010. It’s also the 12th track & field championship all-time for Lincoln, which won the outdoor national title in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2014.
Story courtesy LUBlueTigers.com