BRADENTON, Florida—Saint Martin’s Mikel Smith (above/photo by Kyle Terwilliger, USTFCCCA) cleared every bar on his first attempt to win the high jump competition at the NCAA Division II Track & Field Championships at the IMG Academy Field Friday.
Smith opened with a first attempt clearance at 6-8.75 (2.05m), and made three straight bars afterwards on his first attempt as he dueled Texas A&M/Kingsville’s Jeron Robinson and Miles Poullard of Azusa Pacific.
The fourth bar Smith made—7-1 (2.16m) was a school and GNAC conference record, not to mention a personal best. However, Robinson also made that height on his first attempt, while Poullard missed all three tries at the height.
Both Smith and Robinson missed all three attempts at 7-2.75 (2.19m), but Robinson’s first attempt miss back at 6-8.75 (2.05m) proved to be the difference, as Smith took home the school’s first national championship in any sport.
With that victory, Smith became the school’s first four-time All-American.
"Winning Nationals is a great feeling," said Smith after the competition. "I went out there and dared to be great and put my soul into each jump."
SMU head coach Jim Brewer said, “ I knew he was ready as he went over 7-1 the day before in practice. This is a great moment for Saint Martin's Track & Field. I knew a lot of Saints will be super excited for this momentous occasion. Mikel showed a lot of class as he continued to congratulate his competitors. When the event was over every athlete and many coaches gave him a hug to show their appreciations for what Mikel accomplished. A true demonstration of great sportsmanship."
Central Washington’s Dani Eggleston replicated her eighth-place finish in the 2015 women’s steeple final, running 10:28.85.
In other action at the NCAA D2 championships, Lynelle Decker of Seattle Pacific qualified for the finals in the 800, winning her semifinal race in 2:09.58.
Decker will race Saturday in the finals of both the 800 and the 1500.
Besides Decker, Seattle Pacific will have high jumper Geneva Lehnert competing in the championship meet’s final day. Western Washington will have eight athletes competing, led by javelin throwers Bethany Drake and Katie Reichert. Central Washington has Tayler Fettig in the women’s high jump, while Saint Martin’s remaining competitor is Deanna Avalos in the javelin.
In Eugene, the Nike Prefontaine Classic opened with the traditional Distance Night at Hayward Field.
The only competitor with Washington ties racing Friday night was Seattle Pacific alum McKayla Fricker, who finished sixth in the USATF High Performance women’s 800, running 2:02.27, as 2012 US Olympian Alysia Montano won in 2:00.78.
The highlight of Friday night’s racing was Mo Farah of Great Britain and the Nike Oregon Project’s win in the men’s 10000, running a world leading time of 26:53.71.
Saturday, the meet continues with Auburn-Riverside alum Jordan McNamara in the men’s national mile along with Gig Harbor’s Mark Wieczorek as a pacesetter. WSU alum Bernard Lagat is scheduled to run the 5000. Camas’s Alexa Efraimson is entered in the women’s 1500.
Finally, University of Washington alum Jeremy Taiwo is in Gotzis, Austria to compete in the Gotzis Hypomeeting decathlon competition Saturday and Sunday.
Taiwo scored a personal best 8303 points at last year’s Hypomeeting.