Three athletes represented the Denison women's track and field team on Friday at the 2014 NCAA Division III Indoor Track & Field Championship at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on the campus of the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb. Sophomore Aedin Brennan and seniors Olivia Galano and Tiffany Davis were all very active on the opening day of this year's national meet.
For the second time in her career, Brennan earned All-American honors following a seventh-place finish at nationals. At last year's outdoor championship, Brennan earned her first certificate following a seventh-place finish in the heptathlon. After finishing just outside All-American status in last year's indoor pentathlon, the DU sophomore final broke into the top-8 thanks to a strong performance in the final race of the event, the 800-meter run.
Brennan opened her day with a personal-best performance in the 60-meter hurdles. The sophomore crossed the finish line in 9.58, which was five hundredths of a second shy of the school record set by Melanie Cluss in 2003. Despite the personal-best mark, Brennan's time ranked 14th in the 17-athlete field. Despite posting another 14th-place finish in the high jump (4'11.50"), Brennan fell back one space in the overall standings after two events.
As was the story in last year's NCAA Division III Pentathlon, the Denison sophomore began her ascension in the standings with a strong showing in the shot put. Brennan placed eighth in the event with a toss of 35'4". Thanks to that heave, the sophomore moved into 13th place with just two events remaining. The climb continued in the fourth event, the long jump, where Brennan took fifth after tying her Denison school record with a leap of 17'5.50". That distance matched the school mark she set at the All-Ohio Championship on Feb. 15 in Westerville, Ohio. With her fifth-place finish, the sophomore gained two more spots as she entered the 800-meter run in 11th place overall.
At this point last year, Brennan needed over 100 points to jump into the top-8. This season, however, Brennan was just 31 points out of All-American status heading into the final event. In the first of two heats, the sophomore roamed around third place until the bell lap. When Brennan heard the bell she found one last burst of energy which helped her pass St. Benedictine's Mandy Witschen and move into second place. Despite finishing roughly three seconds behind heat winner Allie Boudreau, Brennan still crossed the finish line in a personal-best time of 2:19.34. With that time, the sophomore garnered 832 points in the event en route to totaling 3,484 points. With that total, Brennan earned her first All-American certificate at the NCAA Indoor Championship after moving four spots to finish in seventh place.
Carleton sophomore Ameila Campbell won the event with 3,884 points, while last year's runner up Jessicak Smith of Wisconsin-Stout took second for the second-straight year with 3,798 points. Tufts' Jana Hieber (3,691), Wisconsin-Stout's Meagan Ward (3,645) and Charity Arn of George Fox (3,589) occupied spots three, four and five.
Galano (pictured left) made her NCAA track debut in the 5,000-meter run. The senior crossed the finish line in 17:42.00 which landed her in 15th place overall among the nation's best distance runners. In her final indoor season, Galano became the school's record holder in both the 3,000 and 5,000-meter events. La Verne's Lenore Moreno won the event with a meet record time of 16:32.85, while Calvin's Nicole Michmerhuizen and Amy Cymerman of St. Lawrence took second and third, respectively.
In preliminary action on Friday, Davis, the three-time North Coast Athletic Conference Indoor Sprinter of the Year, recorded the fastest time in the 200-meter dash en route to qualifying for Saturday's nine-athlete final at 5:15 p.m. EST. Due to an unbreakable tie for eighth-place, nine athletes will vie for eight All-American awards on Saturday.
After two of the five preliminary heats, Wartburg's Libbey Schubert led the field with a time of 24.76, which matched the converted time Davis recorded to qualify for the event. In the third heat of the 200, the DU sprinter posted a school-record time of 24.61 which vaulted her past Schubert and into first-place. Davis (pictured right) crossed the finish line 39 hundredths of a second ahead of Amherst's Karen Blake, who also advanced to the finals, and 50 hundredths of a second before Meg Heafy of Wisconsin-La Crosse. After the completion of the other two preliminary races, Davis' time stood strong as the best performance of the day.
Roughly 80 minutes before running the 200, Davis competed in the 60-meter dash prelims. She finished 17th in the event after crossing the finish line in 7.82 seconds. Davis will try to earn her first-career All-American honor on Saturday afternoon in Lincoln, Neb. Tune into Saturday's live video feed provided by the NCAA.