T&F: Bearcats Head South for Two Competitions
April 6, 2017

Bearcats Notes and Updated Marks/Records (pdf) | Auburn Results | Georgia Results

Following a success home meet, the University of Cincinnati track and field program will return to the road this weekend with Bearcats taking part in a pair of competitions down south. Nearly all of the Bearcats competing this weekend will be in action Friday and Saturday at the Tiger Track Classic that will be hosted by Auburn at the Hutsell-Rosen Track in Auburn, Ala. The lone exception will be Alex Bloom, who will head to Athens, Ga., to compete in the Bulldog Decathlon-Heptathlon on Saturday and Sunday on the Georgia campus.

Along with a full recap of each day’s action that will be posted on GoBearcats.com, the team’s social accounts also will provide periodic updates, including Twitter (@GoBearcatsTFXC), Instagram (GoBearcatsTFXC) and Facebook (Cincinnati Track & Field/Cross Country). For the Auburn meet, live results can be found HERE with the results from the meet in Georgia being found HERE.

Weather concerns has caused some plan changes for this weekend. Alex Bloom is still set to compete in the Bulldog Decathlon-Heptathlon this week, only with the meet being shifted to a Saturday-Sunday competition instead of the originally scheduled Wednesday-Thursday running. The Tiger Track Classic remains a Friday-Saturday competition.

Bloom, who had a breakout indoor season in the multi-events (heptathlon), is set to face a solid field of competitors in the Bulldog Decathlon. Looking over the small entry list, the field includes five men that placed in the Top 12 of the heptathlon at the 2017 NCAA Indoor Championships, including the Top 3 placers in champion Devon Williams of Georgia, runner-up Tim Duckworth of Kentucky and bronze medalist Karl Saluri of Georgia.

Teams that will be represented at the Tiger Track Classic this weekend include: host Auburn, Cincinnati, Alabama-Huntsville, Alabama State, Auburn-Montgomery, Boston University, Columbus State, Elon, Georgia State, Holy Cross, Indiana State, Samford, South Alabama, Southeast Missouri, Tiffin, Troy, UAB, UNC-Wilmington and Western Carolina.

The schools represented in the decathlon in Georgia include: host Georgia, Cincinnati, Kentucky, Memphis, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, Nebraska and South Carolina.

1 - Number of meet records broken by the Bearcats at the Oliver Nikoloff Open (women’s 4x100m relay)
3 - Number of marks held by Bearcats that currently lead the American Athletic Conference (1 W, 2 M)
4 - Number of event UC swept (men and women) at the Oliver Nikoloff Open (HJ, PV, SP, HT)
5 - Number of marks achieved over the weekend that rank in the program’s all-time Top 10
6 - Tudor’s national ranking in the discus following his season debut in last week’s home meet
8 - Number of titles won by the men at the Oliver Nikoloff Open
9 - Number of titles won by the women at the Oliver Nikoloff Open

Macklin Tudor, following an impressive opening weekend at home last week, was named the American Athletic Conference Men’s Field Athlete of the Week (April 4). The first accolade of the season for Tudor and the ninth (indoor and outdoor included) by the Bearcats this year, Tudor earned the award after he won a pair of events, taking titles in both the discus and shot put competitions at the Oliver Nikoloff Open. Tudor’s mark of 58.73m in the discus leads the conference and ranks sixth nationally while his winning toss of 17.65m in the shot put ranks him third in the league.

For the second year in a row, a member of the program has been named the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Women’s Sports Association Collegiate Track & Field Athlete of the Year with Annette Echikunwoke being named this year’s recipient after Erika Hurd was named last year. Echikunwoke, who is now up for the overall collegiate athlete of the year, is joined by Director of Track & Field/Cross Country Susan Seaton as award winners this year as Seaton was named the Collegiate Coach of the Year.

Over the weekend at the Oliver Nikoloff Open, the Bearcats collected 15 individual titles and added two more relay crowns in their first of two home events in 2017. On the women’s side, Haisha Bisiolu won the 100m and 200m events and joined teammates Kellsa Mbah, Bryana Robinson and Tiona Lattimore on the victorious 4x100m relay squad to lead all Bearcats in wins. Also winning events for the women were Aliya Barnes (100m hurdles), Loretta Blaut (high jump), Brooke Catherine (pole vault), Irati Mitxelena (triple jump), Ashley Williams (shot put) and Annette Echikunwoke (hammer). Three men had a had in multiple wins, including Macklin Tudor, who swept the shot put and discus, and 4x400m relay runners Kevin Konkoly, who also on the 400m dash, and Jaashir Morris, the 400m hurdles winner. They were joined by Nathan Smith and Halen Witcher on the relay team. Also collecting wins were Jordan Hardiman (high jump), Nathan Alexander (pole vault) and Chris Province (hammer).

Looking at the events won, the Bearcats swept both the men’s and women’s events four times over the weekend with all four events coming in field events. The double wins came in the high jump, pole vault, shot put and hammer.

With all the individual titles and other great performances, the Bearcats were able to run away with the team titles at the Nikoloff Open. On the women’s side, UC won by 143 points, scoring 243.5 points in the competition with Dayton’s 100.5 points earning the runner-up finish. The Top 5 was rounded out by Eastern Kentucky (80), Toledo (69) and Northern Kentucky (68). The UC men also had comfortable win, scoring 186 points with Marian (Ind.) University taking second with 107 points. The men’s Top 5 was completed by Eastern Kentucky (103), Xavier (70) and Butler (67).

While they may not have won their events, several individuals turned in big improvements on their times at the Nikoloff. One of the biggest improvements came from Tessa Ward in the women’s 5,000m run as she lowered her outdoor personal best by 1:18.77 as she ran 17:45.09 (her previous was 19:03.86). Other large improvements for the women came in the single lap events with Grace Winckowski running 1:05.29 in the 400m hurdles, an improvement of 3.73 seconds, while Slyvana Ross not only broke 60 seconds in the 400m dash, she ran 57.49 to lower her PR by 2.99 seconds. On the men’s side, the 5,000m run also produced a big improvement for Nick Grismer as he broke the 15 minute barrier with a 22.8 second PR, finishing the race in 14:54.23. In the men’s 10,000m run on Friday night, Spencer Clark lowered his time by 16.22 seconds to run under 32 minutes for the first time (31:44.88).

Five women’s marks turned in at the Nikoloff now rank among the all-time Top 10 in program history. Freshman Tiona Lattimore ran 24.25 in the 200m dash for the #7 time in UC history after helping the 4x100m relay (Bisiolu, B. Robinson, Mbah) run a meet-record 45.35 for the #8 time at UC. In the field, the triple jump produced two marks as Irati Mitxelena (12.08m) now ranks #3 all-time and Kellsa Mbah (11.97m) ranks #4. Ashley Williams moved up to #5 in the shot as she hit a toss of 14.84m to win her event.

Following last weekend’s action, the Bearcats now hold three marks that currently lead the American Athletic Conference Standings, two of which come on the men’s side. Macklin Tudor’s toss of 58.73m is the top mark in the men’s discus while Spencer Clark’s PR time of 31:44.88 from the Nikoloff Open leads the way in the 10,000m run. On the women’s side, Loretta Blaut continues to lead the high jump with her 1.75m clearance at the Raleigh Relays two weeks ago.

Much like she did throughout the entire indoor season, Annette Echikunwoke not only put together a consistent competition, but also was able to find her way to the top step of the podium as she won the 2017 NCAA title in the women’s weight throw on March 11, capping a season in which she won all but one meet she competed. The two-time American Athletic Conference indoor champion in the same event, Echikunwoke opened the meet with a toss of 21.87m (71-09.00), which essentially won her the national title as no one was able to surpass that mark. After two fouls to close out the preliminary round, Echikunwoke was still in the lead and hit a toss of 21.81m (71-06.75), which also would have won the meet as the sixth and final round of throws saw the second and third-place finishers each pop marks of 21.74m (71-04.00), the closest anyone would get to the Bearcat junior. With the title in hand, Echikunwoke entered the ring for her final throw and upped her lead to 22.42m (73-06.75), her seventh throw of 22 meters or better this year, to put an exclamation point on her victory. She will make her outdoor season debut this weekend at home, competing in the shot put, discus and hammer (her signature event) at the Oliver Nikoloff Open.

With the title, Echikunwoke became the first member of the program to capture an NCAA title and just the fifth UC student-athlete to do so in any individual competition in Bearcats history. Echikunwoke’s title is the first for UC since Josh Schneider won the men’s 50 freestyle title at the 2012 NCAA Swimming Championships and the just the second crown won by a woman after Becky Ruehl captured the platform event at the 1996 NCAA Diving Championships. Echikunwoke’s finish also surpasses the previous best placements in program history that were held by Al Lanier, who was the highest national finisher for UC track and field with runner-up showings in the long jump at the 1972 and 1973 indoor and outdoor meets (four-time runner-up nationally). She also surpassed Kathy Klump, who’s fourth-place showing in the 800m run at the 2012 NCAA Indoor Championships was previously the best national finish for a UC woman in program history.

One meet into the outdoor season and we already have two broken records, both of which came in women’s relay events at the adidas Raleigh Relays. On Friday, March 24, the team of Madison Dunlap, Grace O’Donnell, Vanessa Robinson and Meg Westerheide combined to run 19:12.58 in the 4x1,500m relay to break the school record by 3.44 seconds, a mark that was set last year in the same meet. One day later, the team of Haisha Bisiolu, Tiona Lattimore, Juliana Puopolo and Aliya Barnes ran 1:38.15 to break the mark in the 4x200m relay that had stood since 2000. It marks just the third time in UC history that a team has run under 1:39 in the event. With those two records, the Bearcats have combined to break a school record 20 times this track and field season after breaking 18 indoors.

Alexis Gray had a very solid opening weekend as she competed in three throwing events and recorded personal bests in all three. She opened the day with a mark of 12.82m (42-00.75) in the shot put before she posted a pair of bests in the discus. After fouling in her first two attempts, she hit a mark of 47.85m, which pushed her up to No. 5 all-time after entering the meet at No. 6. She followed that up in the finals with an improved mark of 48.67m (159-08) to take over the No. 4 position and currently sit second in the conference. One day later, she improved her all-time best in the hammer, throwing the ball out to 44.12m (144-09), a nearly four-foot improvement.

For the second year in a row, Adrian Valles closed out his indoor season with a fifth-place finish in the pole vault at the NCAA Indoor Championships, giving him a Top 6 placement for the third year in a row as well. The Spaniard cleared 5.45m (17-10.50) for his fourth overall Top 6 showing after placing fifth outdoors at the end of the 2015 season. Valles posted first-attempt clearances at 5.25m and 5.45m before missing his first attempt at 5.55m. With a pair of individuals already over that bar and a finish of no lower than fifth place guaranteed, Valles passed his final two attempts and took at 5.60m. Valles was close to clearing that height, but the bar did not stay up, relegating the junior to fifth place overall.

With their finishes at the NCAA Indoor Championships, both Annette Echikunwoke and Adrian Valles were tabbed as USTFCCCA All-America First Team selections. For Valles, the honor is the fourth of his career and the third in a row during the indoor season while Echikunwoke earned her second-consecutive indoor honor and third overall after placing eighth in the outdoor hammer last season after finish eighth in the indoor weight throw.

// IN THE TOP 25
Thanks to the 10 team points earned with her national title finish, Echikunwoke helped the program to its best finish ever as the women’s team tied for 21st overall at the NCAA Indoor Championships. With a previous best of 34th place in 2012, the women also earned just their second Top 35 finish and their first Top 25 finish ever. The women’s placement ranks as the second-best all-time when including the men’s indoor and outdoor placements behind only the tie for 16th place the men achieved at the 1973 NCAA Outdoor Championships.

The second of two home meets await the Bearcats next weekend as they will play host to the All-Ohio Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The meet, which features schools from around Ohio, will take place Friday and Saturday, April 14-15, at Gettler Stadium in Cincinnati.