FAYETTEVILLE, Arkansas--Pole vaulter Jax Thoirs (left/photo by Paul Merca) of the University of Washington scored a fourth place finish, and the Husky distance medley relay team of Baylee Mires, Gianna Woodruff, Eleanor Fulton, and Maddie Meyers, who entered as the final team in the national championship meet, earned a fifth place finish at the NCAA Division I indoor track & field championships hosted by the University of Arkansas.
Theirs, the Scottish national record holder in this event, started with a first attempt make at 17-0.75 (5.20m), then succeeded with first attempt clearances at the next two heights jumped, 17-4.5 (5.30m), and 17-8.5 (5.40m).
After a first attempt miss at 18-0.5 (5.50m), he cleared the bar on his next jump, before passing to 18-4.5 (5.60m). After two misses at 18-4.5 and realizing that a make wouldn’t make a difference in the final placing with four jumpers remaining in the competition, Thoirs elected to pass for an all-or-nothing jump at a lifetime best 18-6.5 (5.65m).
Though he didn’t make the height, he was pleased with his fourth place finish at 18-0.5, noting that his first attempt makes at the lower heights gave him confidence as the competition wore on.
“As soon as I got over that 18-foot bar I was happy because I’d never jumped 18-feet at nationals before so that was good. But I just know I could have jumped higher so it’s still a little bit disappointing, but I’ll head into outdoors still hungry.”
In one of the best battles in NCAA indoor track & field history, Akron’s Shawn Barber won the national title with a new collegiate and meet record of 19-4.75 (5.91m), with Tennessee’s Jake Blankenship drawing the distinction of clearing 19-feet and losing with a best of 19-0.25 (5.80m).
UW redshirt frosh Lev Marcus failed to clear the opening height of 17-0.75.
The women's distance medley relay saw leadoff runner Baylee Mires lose a shoe after one lap of her six-lap leg, but managed to hang on to seventh place entering the first exchange to Gianna Woodruff, running 3:25.45.
Woodruff then ran a 55.53 400m split to keep the Huskies in the seven spot despite chaos at the exchange, in which the Dawgs nearly lost the stick. Eleanor Fulton managed to hang on to the baton on the exchange, and ran a 2:08.58 800 leg to keep Washington in seventh going into the final exchange.
On that final exchange, anchor Maddie Meyers ran a 4:38.94 leg to win a three team battle between Washington, New Mexico and Georgetown for the fifth spot, as Arkansas won in 10:51.89 to the delight of the home crowd at the Randal Tyson Center.
The Huskies finished in a time of 11:08.50.
In other finals action, Tacoma native Marcus Chambers of Oregon ran a 46.82 400 split to help the Ducks take the national title in the distance medley relay, as they ran 9:30.53, capped by Edward Cheserek’s 3:57.68 1600m anchor leg.
In the 5000m finals, Washington’s Aaron Nelson finished 12th in 14:13.90, as Oregon’s Eric Jenkins won in 13:48.36. Kirkland native Tansey Lystad was 14th in the women’s race in 16:19.50, as Providence’s Emily Sisson won in 15:32.15.
Qualifying action saw Federal Way native Hannah Cunliffe finish sixth in her heat of the 60 in 7.37.
Neither Eleanor Fulton (4:43.78) nor Izaic Yorks of the Huskies (4:01.84) made it out of the semis in the mile.
In Birmingham, Alabama, Western Washington’s Katelyn Steen finished fourth in the women’s 5000 meter run, clocking 16:54.31 at the NCAA Division II championship meet.
Amy Cymerman of Grand Valley State took the national title in 16:34.13.
Saint Martin’s Mikel Smith finished in a 5-way tie for fifth in the high jump.
Smith cleared a best of 6-9.5 (2.07m), as Isaac Jean-Paul of Lewis won with a mark of 7-3 (2.21m).
The Seattle Pacific quartet of Jessica Rawlins, Becca Houk, Lynette Decker and Anna Patti ran a season best of 11:47.68 to finish ninth, 1/100th of a second away from a spot on the podium.
Hillsdale took the national title in 11:25.61, with GNAC rival Alaska Anchorage taking eighth in 11:47.67.
In qualifying action, Western’s Alex Donigian made the finals of the men’s 60 meter dash, running 6.76 to finish second in his semifinal.
SPU’s Lynette Decker failed to advance out of the semis in the 800, running 2;13.68 in finishing sixth in her heat.
In Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Allanah Whitehall of the University of Puget Sound advanced to the finals in the women’s 60 dash, running 7.64 to finish second in her heat.
Roosevelt HS alum Lucy Cheadle of Washington University in St. Louis was 13th in the women’s 5000, running 16:52.60.
Results of the NCAA Division III championships are available here.
NOTE: The University of Washington, along with the USTFCCCA and the NCAA contributed to this report.