ALLENDALE, Mich. -- Sixteen women from the Lincoln (Mo.) posed on the podium to take pictures and receive their championship trophies.
After they stepped down, they were handed T-shirts and hats. But none of them could seem to find the right size.
That might have been the only thing that didn’t go right for the Blue Tigers as the women’s team won the 2014 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field national title on Saturday on the campus of Grand Valley State.
“It feels good to win again and to prove to these guys that they have to work hard to be the best team and we are the best team,” Lincoln coach Victor Thomas said.
Lincoln (Mo.), a school in Jefferson City, Missouri, captured its seventh outdoor championship under Thomas, who is in his 12th year at the university.
“I’d like to recognize all of our coaches and our program for the job they do,” Thomas said. “I don’t think we get the recognition we deserve sometimes.”
In the 400-meter relay, the team of Judith Riley, Yanique Ellington, Kimberley Bailey and Janae Johnson won with a time of 45.34. They capped off the meet with a win in the 1,600 relay with a time of 3:37.29, which is the best in Division II this year. That team consisted of Willomena Williams, Donna-Lee Hylton, Jhevere Hall and Tamara Keane.
“It's for them to come here and win on Grand Valley’s home ground,” Thomas said. “It’s phenomenal, it’s good and I feel good for them.”
Lincoln won with 64 points, just edging out Johnson C. Smith (59) and host GVSU (53).
Monique Thompson, who finished fourth in the 800, was thrilled with the win.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” said Thompson, a junior at Lincoln. “We were very motivated to win and we trained really hard to get here.”
Thomas said he wasn’t surprised his team didn’t win an individual event.
“We are a very rounded program,” Thomas said. “We have very good relays; I’m not surprised we won them.”
Johnson C. Smith, located in Charlotte, North Carolina, had eight women at the finals, but they did a lot of damage.
Samantha Elliott won the 100m hurdles (13.044) and the 400m hurdles (57.12) and teammate Danielle Williams became the fastest woman in Division II by winning the 100m dash (11.55) and the 200m dash (23.48).
“I’m not surprised,” Williams said of she and Elliott combining for four titles. “We are the strongest on our team. We’re the seniors, so we carry the flag and we do the best for our school.”
Elliott said it’s pretty cool knowing she’s the best hurdler in Division II.
“It feels great,” said Elliott, a native of Kingston, Jamaica. “I was trying to win both of them, so that was an answer to my prayer.”
Elliott said the 400 didn’t go as she expected.
“I would say the 400-meter hurdles was harder for me,” Elliott said. “I was expecting to go a little bit faster, but i’m still happy that I won.”
What about being the fastest woman in Division II?
“It’s a wonderful feeling,” Williams said. “But I don’t really think about that. It’s the farthest from my mind.”
Williams was a workhorse on Saturday. She also competed in the 100 hurdles and finished second to Elliott by milliseconds, 13.044 to 13.050.
“It’s very hard,” Williams said. “It takes a lot out of you because [the events] are so close together and it takes a lot of time to recover.”
The native of Kingston, Jamaica, is majoring in business management, and will try out for her country at the Commonwealth Games this summer. She also has her eye on the 2016 Olympics, “but that’s a long ways away.”
Elliott, who is majoring in computer science, said she will continue her career at Clemson next year while going to grad school.
100 METER RUN
Finishing second to Williams in the 100 was New Haven junior Ada Udaya (11.63), who entered the meet as the No. 1 seed. Third was Yanique Ellington, a junior from Lincoln, in 11.75.
200 METER RUN
Behind Williams was Janae Johnson, a junior from Lincoln, who finished second in 23.49. Third was Udaya (23.55).
Elliott and Williams were the top two finishers. Dinesha Bean, a senior from the Academy of Art, was third (13.23) and Ladonna Richards, a junior from Lincoln, was fourth (13.32).
Tia-Adana Belle, a freshman from Saint Augustine’s, finished second behind Elliott with a time of 57.12. In third place was Nikki Douglas, a sophomore from Central Missouri.
Alicia Nelson has so many trophies, that she doesn’t know what to do with them. So she just keeps them in their box.
A senior from Adams State, Nelson defended her title in the 5,000 with a time of 16:29.60. She pulled away from the field on the last lap to dominate the event. She also defended her title in the 3,000 steeplechase earlier in the week.
“It’s great when you are fit enough to do it,” she said of being a double winner again. “I’m a lot more confident in the steeple. I’m not as confident in the 5K, but I’m working on it.”
Nelson now has nine national titles between outdoors and indoors.
“It’s different every time,” she said. “But it feels great every time you win.”
Nelson’s kick down the stretch was too much for the field.
“I would say my kick is one of my strengths,” she said. “I wouldn’t call it an advantage, but it certainly helps.”
Minnesota-Duluth freshman Samantha Rivard finished a distant second in 16:35.44 and Allyson Winchester, of Grand Valley State, was third in 16:36.39. Cal State Stanislaus’ Courtney Anderson, who won the 1,500, finished fourth (16:36.42).
Western Washington dominated the javelin.
Bethany Drake, a sophomore, won the javelin with a throw of 165-3 (50.36m). She beat out teammate Katie Reichert, who finished second 165-2 (50.34m). Drake came into the meet as the No. 1 seed with a school-record 169-6 (51.66).
Ashland sophomore Jamie Sindelar won the shot put on her fifth attempt with a throw of 54-0 (16.46). Sara Wells of Wayne State (Neb.) finished second with a toss of 49-9 3/4 (15.18m) and in third palce was Kylie Cornman, a senior from Missouri Southern, with a throw of 49-5 3/4 (15.08m).
Barbara Szabo continues to reach new heights. And she has her teammate to help push her.
The senior from Western State won the title in the high jump with a stunning leap of 6-3 1/4 (1.91m), which is a personal best and the top leap in Division II this year. It’s also tied for 12th as the best high jump mark in the world this season.
Western State’s Susan Jackson, cleared the same height height as Szabo, but she finished second on attempts. Both were impressive to watch as the entire stadium was cheering for the teammates.
Jennifer Foster, a junior from Ashland, finished third 5-9 1/4 (1.76m). Central Oklahoma senior Lacey Rhodes also had the same leap, but finished fourth on attempts.
Cal State Stanislaus’ Anderson won by a pretty good margin in the 1,500.
She finished with a time of 4:23.33, beating teammate Marina Vorderbruegge, who finished second in 4:25.33. Third place was Alaska-Anchorage senior Ivy O’Guinn in 4:26.70.
The senior Anderson, who became the Warriors' first national champion in outdoor track and field since 2005, also capped off her career with a record-setting performance in the 5,000-meter run for another All-American award to help the Warriors finish a program-best eighth in the team standings.
Quanera Hayes had a big cheering section at the finish line of the 400 and she didn’t disappoint.
A sophomore from Hope Mills, North Carolina, Hayes defended her national title with a time of 51.91. She ran a 51.53 to win last year.
Hayes, who was pretty overcome with emotion after crossing the finish line, now has the best time in Division II this year. She also has the ninth best time in the country across all divisions.
Merrimack freshman Carly Muscaro was second in 53.43 and Adams State senior Kayon Robinson was third (53.57).
McKayla Fricker was hard to miss in her yellow headband.
The fans didn’t need it to spot the senior from Seattle Pacific as she won the 800 in 2:06.18.
Shawnee Carnett, a senior from Concord, finished second (2:07.53) and Nicole Burlinson, a sophomore from Ursuline, was third (2:08.76).
Fricker’s time is now the best in Division II this year, edging out a run by Carnett earlier this season when she ran a 2:06.19.