Freshman Ajai Brooks and sophomore Arlesha Cospy opened things up for the Denison track and field team on Friday at the 2016 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships held in Waverly, Iowa on the campus of Wartburg College.
Brooks turned in the top performance of the day as she qualified for Saturday's finals of the 200-meter dash. The freshman sprinter finished second in her heat and posted the third-fastest time overall after crossing the finish line in 24.60, 22 hundredths of a second off her seed time of 24.38. Brooks has a shot for her second All-American honor in the 200 after finishing seventh at this year's indoor meet. Wisconsin-Oshkosh senior Becklyn Hunter turned in the top time of the prelims, breaking the tape at 24.29. Daisy Ogede, a junior from Washington-St. Louis, and Amber Celen, a sophomore from Bridgewater, were the other two heat winners with times of 24.34 and 24.61, respectively.
Cospy didn't have the best national debut as she triple faulted in the prelims of the discus. The sophomore thrower entered the meet with the 14th-best performance in the event after breaking the North Coast Athletic Conference record held by former Big Red All-American Laura Finkes.
Noticeably absent from Thursday's competition was eight-time national qualifier and 2015 national champion in the heptathlon, Aedin Brennan. Brennan, who was battling an injury suffered at the Great Lakes Elite Meet on May 19, was forced to withdraw from both the heptathlon and triple jump on Wednesday. She leaves Denison as the most decorated female track and field athlete in program history. Brennan is a seven-time All-American and 26-time NCAC Championship. Earlier today, she was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District first-team and is now a candidate to become an Academic All-American.
The Big Red will continue competition at the 2016 NCAA Division III Outdoor Championships on Friday at Walston-Hoover Stadium. Sophomore Hannah Hall will make her nationals debut in the high jump at 3:30 p.m. EDT, while Brooks will run in the prelims of the 100-meter dash at 6:30 p.m. EDT.