T&F: Record 8 Bearcats Set to Compete in NCAA Final in Eugene
June 5, 2017

Bearcats Notes w/Stats & Records (pdf) | Live Stats (link)

A record eight members of the University of Cincinnati track and field program have qualified to and will compete in the NCAA Outdoor Finals that will be held June 7-10 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. The meet, the final competition of the 2016-17 collegiate season, will see six Bearcats women and two men compete for national titles and All-America honors against the best in the nation over the course of four days on the Oregon 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). You can join in using #ncaaTF. The NCAA will provide live, updated results throughout the competition while the ESPN family of networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and through the WatchESPN app).

National champions will be crowned this week, including team, individual and relay champions. Team points will be collected through Top 8 finishes in each of the 21 contested events for each gender with those Top 8 finishes also earning each finisher USTFCCCA All-America First Team accolades.

  1 - This year will be the first time UC has qualified a relay to the NCAA Final (indoor & out, men and women)
  1 - Tudor will be the first Bearcat (man or woman) to compete in the discus at the NCAA meet
  2 - Echikunwoke will be the second Bearcat woman to compete in the shot put at the NCAA meet (Jo Young, 2005)
  2 - Men that will compete in the NCAA Finals in Eugene, the first time since 2013 that more than 1 man will compete
  2 - Meets in a row the W4x400m relay has broken the school record (won AAC title and then qualified to Eugene)
  4 - Echikunwoke (shot put) earned the program’s 4th throwing entry at the NCAA meet
  4 - Number of UC women making their NCAA Final debut this week (all 4 members of the 4x400m relay)
  6 - Women that will compete in the NCAA Finals in Eugene, a single-gender record for UC
  7 - Blaut’s appearance in the high jump will be the 7th all-time for the UC women in the event outdoors
  8 - School-record number of Bearcats set to compete at the NCAA Finals in Eugene
21 - Including the relay members, UC has been represented by 21 different women at the NCAA meets
32 - Tudor is the 32nd UC man to compete in an NCAA Finals event (XC nationals, indoor nationals, outdoor Final)
53 - Total number of Bearcats that have competed in NCAA Final events (XC, indoor, outdoor)(21W/32M)

The USTFCCCA announced regional coach and athlete awards Sunday with Macklin Tudor being voted as the Great Lakes Region Men’s Field Athlete of the Year. Undefeated in the discus this year, Tudor won the shot put and discus titles at the American Athletic Conference Championships in May and currently holds the UC, American Athletic overall and American Athletic meet records in both events. Tudor heads into Eugene with the third-best mark in the nation this year (63.54m) after posting the second-best mark in the nation last weekend at the preliminary round meets. His honor is just the second in UC history after Terrence Somerville earned the men’s track honor in 2013.

Last year at the 2016 NCAA Final in Eugene, UC sent a then-program record six individuals to compete, including a then-record five women and one man. Loretta Blaut led the way as she was sixth overall in the high jump with her clearance of 1.82m (5-11.50) while Annette Echikunwoke took eighth in the hammer with a school-record toss of 62.01m (203-05) as both women combined to score 4 points for the team and a tie for 49th finish overall. Also competing in the meet for the women were a trio of seniors, including Erika Hurd in the high jump (9th), Kenya Woodall and in the 400m dash (11th) and Alyssa McBride in the pole vault (no height). The men were represented by Adrian Valles in the pole vault (no height) for the fourth-consecutive national meet in a row.

Last year in Eugene, three women earned All-America honors from the USTFCCCA. Blaut and Echikunwoke both landed on the USTFCCCA All-America First Team for the first time in their outdoor careers while USTFCCCA All-America Second Team accolades were given to Woodall and Hurd.

At the 2017 indoor national meet, Adrian Valles grabbed his third career indoor All-America honor by placing fifth, giving himself three, first-team indoor accolades and four overall. In his career, those four All-America honors place him elite company as he and Hurd are tied for the second-most honors in program history behind the five earned by Al Lanier (1972/1973). Should Valles earn All-America honors in Oregon, he will join Lanier as the most decorated Bearcat in program history while a fifth, first-team honor also would allow him to keep pace with Lanier for the most in program history.

The past two national meets have seen several Bearcats move up the program’s rankings for number of All-America honors earned. Last year, at the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Final, Hurd’s second-team finish in the high jump gave her four accolades for her career, which makes her the most decorated female in program history. Then, at the 2017 indoor meet, Echikunwoke moved up the charts as well as she grabbed her third-consecutive first-team accolade while winning the program’s first national title (weight throw). With her honor, she not only moved into third in women’s program history for most All-America honors, but also broke a tie with both Hurd and Kathy Klump for the most first-team accolades earned after all three had two honors before Echikunwoke garnered her third. Heading into Oregon, two women could move into a tie atop the chart for most outdoor first-team honors as both Blaut and Echikunwoke head into the meet with one career outdoor honor with both Hurd and Klump sitting just ahead of them with two, first team honors in their careers.

On Thursday evening in Eugene, the team of Haisha Bisiolu, Tiona Lattimore, Deanna Gesicki and Bryana Robinson will not only take to the track and race in the 4x400m relay semifinals, they will become the first Bearcats in program history to compete in a relay event at the final NCAA event of a season. Heading into the meet, Cincinnati has never fielded a relay team in either the NCAA Indoor Championships or the NCAA Outdoor Final, including both the men’s and women’s programs. This year, the Bearcats women nearly doubled the total as the 4x100m relay finished 13th overall in the NCAA East Preliminary, one spot shy of qualifying to Eugene.

Heading into Oregon, the Bearcats program - when including cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field - has previously sent 48 different competitors to the national final, including 17 different women and 31 different men. When the relay team races Thursday, the ladies will become the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st different UC women to compete at one of the final three NCAA meets of an academic year while Tudor’s appearance in the discus on Friday will be the 32nd debut for the men’s program.

Prior to the start of the meet, 22 different Bearcats have attained All-America status at least once in their careers, including 12 men and 11 women. With Valles, Echikunwoke and Blaut already having earned at least two national honors each, this week’s competition could see five new additions to the list. Should the relay team earn All-America honors, it would push the women’s all-time total to 15 and surpass the men, who, at most, could climb to 13 different men that have earned All-America accolades should Tudor garner the honor in the discus.

The quartet that will run the relay will be racing together for just the fourth time this outdoor season. After winning the Kentucky Relays in 3:39.34, the team came back and broke the school record on its way to winning the American Athletic Conference title, taking the race in 3:36.87 and becoming the first UC relay to run under 3:37. Two weeks later, the same ladies lowered the school record to 3:36.59 to finish 12th overall in the East and earn the final qualifying spot to Oregon.

The relay debut is not the only first time for the Bearcats this week. In the field, Macklin Tudor will compete in the discus, marking the first time anyone at UC has competed in the event (men and women) at the NCAA Final. Fellow thrower Annette Echikunwoke is set to compete in shot put and, while Jo Young was the first woman to compete in the event for the women in 2005, Echikunwoke is recording a different first as she will become the first Bearcat (man or woman) to compete in two different throwing events at the NCAA Final after she took part in the hammer competition in 2016.

Five Bearcats will be making their NCAA Final debuts this week, a group that includes four women and one man. For the women, the entire 4x400m relay will be seeing their first action at the national final with all four being in just their second year or younger. The group includes sophomores Haisha Bisiolu, Deanna Gesicki and Bryana Robinson along with true freshman Tiona Lattimore. On the men’s side, Macklin Tudor will be making his national meet debut, but only at the Division I level. Prior to joining the Bearcats, Tudor spent one season at Tiffin University and advanced to the NCAA Division II event where he was the national runner-up in the discus and took 16th in the shot put at the 2013 meet.

In a season that has seen a school record fall and/or be rewritten 21 times on the track or in the field, the Bearcats continue to break more records, this time with the number of athletes that will compete in Eugene. Last year, a then-record six individuals made the NCAA Final field, including a then-record five women. This year, however, the records have been rewritten as a record eight Bearcats will make the trip to Oregon, including a record six women. For the men, Tudor and Valles’ appearances marks a doubling of last year’s entrants and gives the UC men multiple entrants for the first time since two men made the field in 2013.

When Loretta Blaut steps onto the high jump apron, she will not only be making her second outdoor appearance, but her third appearance overall in the NCAA national meet (one indoor). With her appearance, the high jump event continues to be the most-contested event by Bearcats at the national meet as Blaut’s competition on Saturday will mark the 16th time UC has entered a competitor, including men and women and both indoor and outdoor. The next two closest events are the pole vault and the multi-events. Adrian Valles’ appearance on Wednesday will be the program’s 12th overall and his sixth-consecutive, an appearance that breaks the tie with the multi-events, which have seen Bearcats compete 11 times (includes the outdoor decathlon for men and heptathlon for women and the women’s indoor pentathlon).

From 1970 through 1973, Al Lanier was the face of the Bearcats track and field program as he represented UC at the national meets 10 times, including five entries each in the long jump and triple jump combined at the indoor and outdoor competitions. In fact, prior to Echikunwoke’s NCAA title victory in the weight throw this indoor season, Lanier held the distinction as the highest finisher in program history after he was the national runner-up four times in the long jump (twice each indoors and out). This week, when Valles takes to the pole vault runway, he will break a tie with Lanier for the most appearances (indoor and outdoor combined) in the same event in a career with his sixth pole vault competition.

At the 2017 NCAA Indoor meet, Echikunwoke won the weight throw title and collected 10 points for the team. With those 10 points, UC finished in a tie for 21st in the nation, the highest finish in women’s program history since a tie for 34th place at the 2012 indoor championships. The women’s first Top 25 showing also was just the fourth in UC track and field history with the previous three coming in 1972 or 1972. Led by Lanier, the men placed tied for 12th in 1972 (indoor), tied for 16th in 1973 (outdoor) and tied for 22nd in 1972 (outdoor). The 10 points the women scored were the second-most all-time as well, surpassed only by the 13 scored at the 1973 outdoor meet by the men. Heading into Eugene, the women will look to build upon last year’s tie for 49th, which stands as their highest outdoor finish in program history and their first outdoor Top 50 finish ever.

Heading into Eugene, the USTFCCCA released its final computer rankings with the Cincinnati men moving back into the national Top 50 once again, this time coming in at #47. The women enter the meet at #84 in the rankings.

Heading into the 2016 American Athletic Outdoor Championships, the UC women had never won a conference crown in track and field since the program began in 1996. That came to an end in Orlando as the women captured their first title with 111 points. One year later, UC was back on top for a second time, this time scoring 138 points to win by 31 points, the largest margin of victory in the four-year history of the meet. With the back-to-back victories, UC is still just one of two women’s teams to win the outdoor crown after SMU won the first two titles in the league’s history.

The women picked-up their second title on the strength of winning seven events, which is one-third of all events contested. Those seven titles, which more than tripled the program’s previous single-meet high of two titles won (2007, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016), came via the track with three sprint titles; one jumping event; two throws and the heptathlon. With those seven crowns, the women now have 23 conference titles in individual and relay events all-time. The victorious Bearcats included Bryana Robinson in the 400m dash; the team of Robinson, Kellsa Mbah, Haisha Bisiolu and Tiona Lattimore in the 4x100m relay; Robinson, Bisiolu, Lattimore and Deanna Gesicki in the 4x400m relay; Loretta Blaut in the high jump; Annette Echikunwoke in the shot put and hammer; and Naomi Urbano in the heptathlon.

When adding the four titles won by the men, the program as a whole captured 11 conference titles in Houston, which stands as the second-most gold medals won in a single outdoor meet by the Bearcats after the men won 14 in the 1994 Great Midwest Conference meet. This year’s 11 victories does stand as a school record for most combined titles, surpassing the six captured in 2015 (two by the women, four by the men). The men that captured titles included Macklin Tudor winning both the shot put and discus; Alex Bloom won the decathlon; and Adrian Valles won the pole vault for the third outdoor meet in a row and sixth time overall (including indoor).

Following the meet, in a vote of the conference coaches, the Bearcats received three more trophies to go along with the women’s team title and the 11 event championships. Annette Echikunwoke, who not only won the hammer for the second year in a row and added the shot put crown, but also placed fourth in the discus, was tabbed as the AAC Female Field Performer of the Meet, an honor she has now earned three times after also garnering the award at the 2016 and 2017 AAC indoor meets. Macklin Tudor won the men’s field honor after taking gold in the shot put with a conference-record mark and the discus with a meet-record mark. Finally, the women’s coaching staff was selected as the Coaching Staff of the Year.

Echikunwoke’s weekend saw her grab 10 points with her win in the hammer on Day 1, 10 more points on Day 2 with her shot put victory and then five more points on Day 3 after placing fourth in the discus. Those 25, which outscored two teams in the final standings, helped to a pair of records in UC women’s history. Just the third woman to score 20 or more points in the same outdoor conference meet, Echikunwoke’s 25 points are the most in a single meet, surpassing the 20 points Frida Akerstrom (2015) and Jo Young (2005) recorded in their throwing events. Echikunwoke also is also the first woman to win two individual titles in the same meet in women’s program history. For her career, she now has 75 points total, which is the second-highest total in women’s program history, just one-quarter of one point behind Jasmine Cotten, who tallied 75.25 points (2007, 2009, 2011-12).

With his wins in the shot put and discus - something that happened just once before in UC history (Scott Ference, 1992) - Tudor collected 20 points for the team. That total is tied for the 14th-most points scored in a single meet in UC men’s history and is just the third time in the 2000’s that a Bearcat man has scored 20 or more points in one meet, joining David Payne (23.50) in 2004 and Chris Wineberg (23.25) in 2002.

Five other women also added their names to the program’s single-meet scoring Top 30 chart after their performances at the AAC Championships. Naomi Urbano scored 16 points by winning the heptathlon and placing third in the high jump to tie for sixth all-time; Kellsa Mbah (2nd in long jump, 4th in triple jump and part of the winning 4x100m relay) scored 15.5 points for the #8 position; Bryana Robinson tied for ninth with 15 points (1st in the 400m and part of the winning 4x100m and 4x400m relays); freshman Tiona Lattimore tied for 13th with 13 points (6th in the 200m, 4th in the 400m and ran on both relays); and Loretta Blaut tied for 26th with 10 points after winning the high jump.

The Bearcats were part of a trio of sweeps at the conference meet. The women swept the field in the relays, winning both the 4x100m and 4x400m events to bookend the runnings events on the final day of competition. Individually, the multi-events and the shot put also belonged to the Bearcats with Alex Bloom and Naomi Urbano winning the decathlon and heptathlon, respectively, while Annette Echikunwoke and Macklin Tudor combined to sweep the shot put.

With their victories outdoors, five individuals and one relay swept the season (indoor and outdoor) in their comparable events. For the women, Loretta Blaut (high jump) and Bryana Robinson (400m) won the same events indoor and outdoor while Annette Echikunwoke first won the indoor weight throw before taking the outdoor hammer for her second sweep in as many years. Naomi Urbano also won both multi-event competitions, taking the indoor pentathlon before winning the outdoor heptathlon. The women’s 4x400m relay team of Robinson, Haisha Bisiolu, Tiona Lattimore and Deanna Gesicki also swept both titles this year. For the men, Adrian Valles won the pole vault in both meets, doing so for the third year in a row to remain undefeated in AAC competitions.

Two of the titles won by the women also held a historical significance as each win was the first in program history. Bryana Robinson won the 400m dash, giving UC its first outdoor 400m women’s champion, a title that came after she accomplished the same feat indoors earlier this year in the same event. The 4x100m relay (Robinson, Bisiolu, Lattimore, Mbah) also was victorious for the first time in a conference meet, joining the indoor 4x400m relay as first-time winners.

The 31-point margin of victory for the women was not the only conference marks broken by the Bearcats as two men’s marks are now the best the league has ever recorded. Macklin Tudor not only won the shot put, but his toss of 18.90m (62-00.25) broke the league record of 18.88m that was recorded in March by Cameron Cornelius of Houston. In the decathlon, Alex Bloom posted a mark of 7.33m (24-00.75) in the long jump portion of the event and broke the meet and conference decathlon record that was previously set by Luis Hanssler of Memphis at 7.26m in 2015.

Tiona Lattimore has not only had an impressive year, she a very impressive conference meet, too. The rookie had a hand in two relay wins - including bringing UC from second to first on the anchor leg of the 4x100m relay - while also scoring in two individual events and breaking two UC freshman records. She finished fourth in the 400m dash in 54.26 after running the UC freshman record and #5 all-time mark of 54.08 in the preliminaries one day earlier. She followed that up with a sixth-place showing in the 200m dash, running 23.74 in the final to move up to #4 all-time at UC and take down the rookie record. With both relays breaking the school record, Lattimore’s combined indoor and outdoor season has seen her add her name to the UC Top 10 list in every event she has entered, including the indoor 60m (t-#9), 200m (#4), 400m (#7) and 4x400m relay (#1) and the outdoor 100m (#8), 200m (#4), 400m (#5), 4x100m (#1) and 4x400m (#1).

Meg Westerheide placed fourth in the women’s 1,500m run, posting a time of 4:31.71, which is the #2 mark in UC history by 0.54 seconds. Her finish also is the best for a UC woman in a running event from 800m to 10,000m in the four years UC has been in the American and marked just the second time that group has scored after Hannah Christ was 8th in the 3,000m steeplechase in 2015.
• Staying with the distances, Juliana Madzia was 9th in the 10,000m run, finishing in 37:09.13, which is the eighth-best time in UC history. She entered the meet with a PR of 37:39.13, meaning she ran a 29.99 second PR.
Naomi Urbano launched the javelin to 38.55m (126-06) in the heptathlon to record the third-best javelin mark in a heptathlon competition in UC history while also posting the #8 mark all-time at UC. She also broke the stadium heptathlon record at the same time.
• Staying in the heptathlon, Angelica Lightfoot hit a mark of 12.23m (40-01.50), which just missed the UC heptathlon record by 0.01m. Her mark was the best of the day and broke the stadium heptathlon record.
• In the men’s 100m dash, Joshuwa Holloman, a member of the UC football team the past two years, ran 10.57 to advance to the final of the short sprint and tie for 10th on the program’s all-time list. That time came in just his second collegiate race after he had not run on the track since graduating as a four-time state champion in Michigan two years prior.
Michael Vitucci, for the second time this year, took runner-up honors in the 800m run. Outdoors, he ran a personal-best 1:50.38 to finish second overall and land at #8 on the program’s all-time Top 10.
• Freshman Austin Edwards had a big day on the runway, leaping to 7.59m (24-11.00) to not only finish third in the long jump and earn all-conference honors, but also punch his ticket to the NCAA East meet.

On Sunday (May 6), two runners with ties to the program got the Bearcats championship push off to an early start by winning titles of their own. Lara Crofford, the Bearcats’ women’s cross country and distance coach, took on the hilly terrain of Cincinnati and won the Paycor Half Marathon in a course-record time of 1:20:21, breaking the Fly Pig event mark, which had stood since 2008, by 27 seconds. Later Sunday, former Bearcats All-American Eric Finan took part in the Eugene (Ore.) Half Marathon and captured the title there, winning in 1:06:11. Crofford’s win also marked the third time in four years that someone with ties to the program has won the women’s half as current student-athlete Juliana Madzia won the 2014 and 2015 events before walking on to the Bearcats team.

With their wins at the conference meet, Loretta Blaut, Macklin Tudor and Adrian Valles remained undefeated in their events on the outdoor season as Blaut has now won the high jump in all eight meets she has entered; Tudor has captured the discus seven meets in a row, including the championship division at the Penn Relays; and Valles has won all four vaults.

Last week, the NCAA released its annual Public Recognition Awards, which go to athletic programs that hold Annual Progress Rates (APR) in the Top 10 percent of their respective sports with the UC program garnering two awards. The men’s track and field program was honored for the third year in a row (2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16) while the women’s cross country program was recognized for the third time and its first since back-to-back honors in 2010-11 and 2011-12. The full APR release it set to come from the NCAA on Wednesday, May 10.

On Monday, April 24, Juliana Madzia was awarded one of five 2017 Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence awards, a prestigious honor created in 2002 by the University President that recognizes exceptional graduating students who best exemplify scholarship, leadership, character, service and the ideals of the University of Cincinnati. Madzia, who will graduate this week from the College of Arts & Sciences with a Bachelor of Science degree in neurobiology and a minor in women’s, gender and sexuality studies, has been very involved all over campus. A 2016 American Athletic All-Conference selection in cross country, Madzia has also maintained the position of co-president of GlobeMed at UC where she worked win Thailand to enhance the movement for global health equality. A finalist for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, Madzia also has served her community as a research assistant/intern at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and volunteered at the Cincinnati Exchange Project providing assistance to people suffering from drug addiction. Upon her graduation this week, Madzia will begin her work toward her MD and PhD in epidemiology at the UC College of Medicine’s Medical Science Training Program. To date, she is just the second UC student-athlete to earn the honor, joining former track & field standout Brian Barney, who was the first to earn the Medal in 2015.

The Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Women’s Sports Association held its 24th Annual Girl’s and Women’s Sports Awards Ceremony on the Xavier campus Monday, April 24, with several Bearcats being honored. Former Bearcat standout Mary Wineberg was on hand to deliver the keynote address. Prior to the banquet, it was announced that Susan Seaton, the Director of Track & Field/Cross Country, had been named the Collegiate Coach of the Year while Annette Echikunwoke had been named the Collegiate Track & Field Athlete of the Year. At the ceremony, Echikunwoke was selected as the 2017 Collegiate Sportswoman of the Year, beating out fellow Bearcats Jacqueline Keire (College Swimmer of the Year) and Jordan Thompson (Collegiate Volleyball Player of the Year). With the honor, Echikunwoke is the third UC track & field athlete to earn the overall award, joining Mackenzie Fields (2014) and Kathy Klump (2013) as the award winners.

For the fifth week in a row, the American Athletic Conference has named Macklin Tudor as the male field athlete of the week (May 2). Tudor was on fire once again over the weekend as he posted a pair of school record marks at the 123rd Penn Relays in Philadelphia. First, Tudor placed third overall in the championship division of the shot put as he pushed the ball out to 18.85m (61-10.50), a 2” improvement over his previous school record and leaving himself just 0.75” behind the conference leader, who he defeated head-to-head in the event. The next day, Tudor increased his school record in the discus by nearly 7’ as he threw 63.54m (208-5) to win the championship division of the event.

With his fifth award in a row, Tudor not only continued his conference record streak, but also became the most decorated weekly award winner in the American’s outdoor history as this week’s honor is the sixth of his career, breaking a tie at the top of the list with Matthew O’Neal (USF), who won five men’s field athlete of the week honors, and Anne-Marie Blaney (UCF), a five-time women’s track athlete of the week honoree. In fact, looking at the outdoor awards since the conference first handed them out in 2014, Tudor is not only just one of five individuals to win a weekly honor in back-to-back to weeks, but is the only winner of three, four and now five in a row as the other four multiple winners all won just two weeks in a row.

It is impressive to break a school record. But, what is more impressive is to continue to obliterate the previous mark. When Tudor arrived on campus, the school’s discus record was 55.12m (180-10) that was thrown by Greg Weber in 1983, nearly 11 years before Tudor was born. Fast forward to today and not only has Tudor broken the record, he has put 27’ 7” (8.42m) between his top mark and the previous school record.

With his tosses at the Penn Relays, Tudor became the first Bearcat this season to qualify for the U.S. Senior Outdoor Championships in Sacramento, Calif., at the end of June. Previously, rookies Austin Edwards and Tiona Lattimore earned berths into the U.S. Junior Championships with Edwards meeting the standard in the long jump for the men and Lattimore meeting the time needed in the 200m dash for the women. The junior meet will run concurrently with the senior meet.

In what has seemingly become a habit of his, Alex Bloom went off at the Bulldog Decathlon event in Athens, Ga., April 8-9, as the junior posted personal-best marks in 9-of-10 decathlon events and added three more PRs in the scoring breakdowns for all-time bests in 12-of-13 possibilities, including a final total of 7,329 points, the third-most in UC history. Among the record book entries, Bloom also broke the school’s decathlon 100m dash time (11.11) and broke the first day scoring total (3,979 points) while recording six other Top 10 marks, most notably his high jump clearance (more below) of 2.14m (7-00.25), the school’s decathlon record and tied for the fourth-best clearance in UC history overall. On the first day, Bloom recorded PRs in all five events with this marks in the 100m dash, long jump, shot put and high jump, ranking among the all-time Top 10 in the decathlon at UC. Day Two saw four more PRs and two more marks added to the decathlon Top 10, including the 110m hurdles and pole vault. All told, Bloom’s overall score currently leads the American Athletic Conference and ranks him 12th nationally, placing him in a solid position to qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Championships for the first time in his career (decathlon does not compete at the regional meet, rather the Top 24 in the nation advance automatically to the outdoor finals in Eugene, Ore.). As of May 9, Bloom sits 27th on the list and will need an improved mark this weekend to earn a spot at the national meet.

Do you want know how well Alex Bloom has done this year in the high jump? Think of your standard door frame... from the floor to the top of the frame, the height is 6’ 8”. Think of Nysier Brooks, a member of the UC basketball, who stands 6’ 11”. So far this year, both indoors and out, Bloom has posted high jump clearances over both. This past weekend in Georgia, Bloom cleared 2.14m, which measures to 7’ 0.25”. That is 4.25” over a standard door frame and 1.25” over Brooks. When looking at the record books, Bloom is now just the seventh man in UC history to clear 7’ indoors and outdoors and joins Brandon Fitch as the only Bearcats to clear 2.14m in competition both indoors and outdoors in a career. The indoor record holder at 2.16m (7-01.00), Bloom is now tied for fourth on the outdoor chart as well as the school record holder in the high jump portion of both the indoor heptathlon and the outdoor decathlon.

Nine Bearcats earned their degrees on April 29 at UC’s Spring Commencement, including eight that will compete this week at the American Athletic Conference Championships. Those team members that earned their degrees include Sergio Acera (health education), Nathan Alexander (chemical engineering), Anthony Car (information systems), Dan Huben (neuroscience), Adrian Valles (industrial management), Nicole Breeden (health education), Juliana Madzia (neuroscience) and Tessa Ward (biology & environmental studies). Also earning his degree was Toby Loveridge (health promotion education), who finished his eligibility before the outdoor season began.

Back in April, the ONE TEAM Honors were announced with Juliana Madzia being tabbed for a pair of high honors. Madzia, an all-conference honoree in cross country, was named the Nancy Hamant Scholar-Athlete of the Year, which is given to the senior athlete with the highest GPA, and the Helen Norman Smith Award, which is given to the top senior athletes (one male and one female) that have demonstrated over the course of his/her career the following characteristics: academic achievement; outstanding contributions and/or excellence in athletic performance; and documented community service, all of which she has excelled greatly in. Madzia is set to graduate this semester and plans to pursue her MD/PhD in social epidemiology.

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.

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.

During the indoor season, Adrian Valles was named the 2016-17 American Athletic Conference Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the 2016-17 academic year, earning the top academic honor in the league among male student-athletes. Valles was Cincinnati’s nominee and received a $2,000 postgraduate scholarship before adding $2,000 to that total after being chosen by the American Athletic Conference Academic Affairs Committee as the scholar-athlete of the year among each of the 11 institution’s honorees. Also, Valles, an industrial management major, was recently selected as the Student-Athlete of the Month for March by UC Student-Athlete Support Services (SASS).

Earlier this season, distance runner Juliana Madzia was tabbed by the league as the female recipient of the Commissioner’s Postgraduate Leadership Award. Given annually to one male and one female student-athlete from an American Athletic Conference-sponsored sport, each recipient was selected base on demonstrating leadership through excellence in academic credentials, athletic performance and depth of commitment to service within the institution/community while also having been admitted into a degree-granting or professional program for the next academic year. Madzia currently maintains a 4.00 GPA and holds several academic honors, including being named a Rhodes Scholarship finalist, induction into Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Kappa honors societies and working as a student researcher at UC, all while earning all-conference honors in cross country. For her efforts and selection for the award, Madzia, who plans to pursue a postgraduate track in medicine, will receive $5,000 in scholarships to help pursue her postgraduate goals.

The spring national signing period opened last week with the Bearcats adding four more individuals to National Letters of Intent and raising the 2016-17 signing class to 10 total individuals after six signed back in the fall. The newest additions to the class include Sam Mikula (Columbus, Ohio/Bishop Watterson HS), who will join the women’s distance program, and three men’s athletes, including Connor Duricky (Mentor, Ohio/Lake Catholic HS) in the short sprints and hurdles; Jeremy Hayton (Hillsboro, Ohio/Hillsboro HS) in the high jump; and Cannon Riddle (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Darby HS) in the high and long jumps.

The NCAA Final brings a close to not on the 2017 collegiate outdoor season, but also the 2016-17 collegiate year for the UC track & field/cross country program. Several individuals will compete for UC at the 2017 U.S. Senior and Junior National Championships in Sacaramento, Calif., at the end of June while others will compete internationally back home or in other events as they gear up for the 2017-18 academic year.