Two athletes head to NCAA indoor competition

Georgette Breen-Naylor

Two Wildcats will head to the NCAA indoor track and field championships after the GLIAC indoor championship competition.

Head coach Chereé Hicks is in her second season with the women’s track and field team.
“Throughout the season, our competition has been gradually getting a little bit more competitive,” Hicks said.“The NCAA are the best of the best, the top 16 athletes in each event.”
The Wildcats competed most recently in Hillsdale, Mich. on Saturday, March 1 and Sunday, March 2 against all GLIAC teams in a conference championship meet. The ’Cats finished in sixth place out of the 14 teams in the conference.

Wildcat juniors Ebony Young and Brittni Wirtz both earned honorable mention All-GLIAC. Wirtz had a time of 7.73 in the 60-meter dash, which placed her sixth in the event. Young came in third place in the triple jump, with a jump of 38-05.5.

Young said she was happy she could contribute to the team.

“I felt I could’ve done better in the jumps,” Young said. “I was happy that I scored points for my team.”

Young also placed fourth in the long jump with a jump of 17-11 1/2. The GLIAC Indoor Championship was a scoring meet, where each athlete’s individual performance and placement contributed to the ’Cats overall rank amongst all the GLIAC teams at the meet.

Over the course of the indoor season, two athletes qualified for the NCAA Championship meet.
With a time of 2:13.81 in the 800-meter event, junior Christina Toogood earned All-GLIAC honors and placed third. Toogood qualified for the NCCA indoor track and field championship on Saturday, Feb. 8 at the Lake Superior Challenge where she broke the school record with a time of 2:13.64 in the 800-meter race.

Toogood said a strong finish helped her place third at the GLIAC championship.

“I started off a bit passive in my 800-meter,” Toogood said. “But I had a strong finish and managed to get third.”
Toogood’s time at the GLIAC’s was only 17 hundredths of a second off the time she earned in February that qualified her for the NCAA Championship.
Teammate and senior Cheyenne Stewart will be joining Toogood at the NCAA championship indoor meet in Winston-Salem, N.C.Stewart qualified at the GLIAC championships with a jump of 40-5.0. The jump not only set a new Northern Michigan University record, but it also broke a league record, earned her All-GLIAC and won the event.

Stewart said she felt ecstatic breaking the record.

“I really wanted to make nationals,” Stewart said. “I put in a lot of work to get there.”
The next meet for the Wildcat team won’t be until Thursday, March 27 at Saint Norbert in De Pere, Wis. For Stewart and Toogood, they will be preparing for a trip to Winston-Salem, N.C., to compete in the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship on Friday, March 14 and Saturday, March 15.

Toogood said that she knows a few of the athletes in the region that will be going.
“I know about one girl from GVSU that is running the 800-meter,” Toogood said. “She got second at the GLIACs.”

According to the Grand Valley State University athletic website, senior Lisa Galasso placed second with a time of 2:13.45.

The NCAA Championship will be a meet with athletes from all over the country and different universities. Each athlete has qualified in their event either at their conference championship meet or a prior meet.

Stewart said she felt really happy when she found out she qualified for the NCAA Championship. She said she will prepare for the NCAA by continuing what she has done all season long.
“[I will] just continue to train, and mentally prepare to retain peak mental and physical strength,” Stewart said.

Hicks said the top 16 athletes in each event are selected from thousands of athletes competing from Division II schools.

“Thats how different it is,” Hicks said. “It’s the top 16 from around the country and we don’t see the top 16 from around the country. It’s the best of the best.”