College Sports

Which local athletes have a shot at NCAA Division II track championships?

National championships will be decided at the NCAA Division II track and field championships in Charlotte.

The three-day event, which starts Thursday at J.C. Smith, has plenty of local contenders for national team and individual championships. St. Augustine’s, which has won five straight men’s championships and 21 straight CIAA men’s titles, is again expected to challenge for the national titles with a strong team of sprinters.

Storylines to watch:

Can St. Aug’s men win it all again?

The Falcons, ranked eighth in the nation, are fielding teams in the 4x100-meter relay and 4x400-meter relays with sprinters Shaquille Dill, Dontarian Evans, Damere Gilbert, Adrian Kimmons and Brandon Valentine-Parris. Dill is also qualified for the 800-meter. Justin Williams (triple jump), Najair Jackson (javelin) and Dakarai Hightower also qualified for field competition. If the relay teams produce, St. Augustine’s could contend.

Stiff competition

Pittsburg State, the top-ranked men’s program, will try to stave off Tiffin and Texas A&M-Kingsville. Pittsburg State is especially strong in the field events with shot putters Bo Farrow and Omar Lewis favored to take the top step.

St. Augustine’s women on a roll

The Falcons are placing their title aspirations on a deep squad of sprinters. The Falcons’ Leah Barker, Amanda Crawford, Ade Hunter and Shannon Kalawan posted provisional times in the 400-meter, 400 hurdles, 4x100 relay, 4x400 relay and 200-meter. Junior Magaly Tshipopo qualified for the high jump, long jump and triple jump.

Local flavor

J.C. Smith and Queens will have multiple competitors at the nationals.

The Golden Bulls women’s team will be represented by freshman shot putter Sah-Jay Stevens and senior Kianje Pollard in the 400 hurdles. Stevens tossed a qualifying throw of 13.93 meters to finish third at the CIAA championships. Pollard won the CIAA 400 hurdles with an NCAA provisional time of 59.28 seconds.

Queens is ranked No. 21 among men’s teams nationally, up two spots from the previous poll. The Royals are tops in the Southeast Region and earned their fourth consecutive South Atlantic Conference championship. The Queens women are ranked No. 2 in the Southeast.

The Royals have 10 athletes competing, including Daniel Wallis, Felix Wammetsberger and Elijah Inuwa in the men’s 1,500-meter. Inuwa also qualified for the 800. Distance runner Tom Bains is in the 10,000-meter field and field athletes Anton Epp (long jump), Martin Knauer (shot put) and Ricko Meckes (javelin).

Queens’ women’s contingent includes Hannah Wolkenhauer in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, and Ella Fox and Danielle Konopelski in javelin.