Competing against the best athletes from across the nation, senior Andrew Bartnett and sophomore Felicia Koerner of the Hopkins track & field team managed to bring home the hardware. Not only did the two earn All-American honors, which is awarded to the top seven finishers in each event, but Koerner and Barnett both finished among the top three athletes in the nation in their respective events.
From the start it was evident that the heptathlon was going to be a highly competitive event, with the three top seeded athletes, which included Bartnett, only separated by 15 points.
On the first day of NCAA Championships, Bartnett would compete in five events — four heptathlon events and the individual pole vault finals. Bartnett would claim his first title of the weekend in the pole vault. For the third time in his career, the senior would earn All-American indoor honors, taking third in the pole vault.
But Bartnett’s weekend was just beginning, as he went on to compete in four other Heptathlon events: the 60-meter dash, the long jump, the shot put and the high jump. Bartnett posted the second fastest time in the 60-meter dash and recorded a personal best in the long jump.
By the end of day one, Bartnett stood in eighth place among a field of 15. However, he would make up for lost ground in day two, running personal bests in both the 60-meter hurdles and the 1000-meter run.
The second day of the heptathlon commenced with the 60-meter hurdles, where Barnett’s personal record moved him up into seventh place. Next came Bartnett’s signature event, the pole vault. After clearing 5.10 meters Friday morning for a third place finish in the pole vault championship, Bartnett went one step further and cleared 5.20 meters after failing to do so in his three attempts the previous day. Matching his season best height, Bartnett finished the event with a 0.5-meter advantage over second place.
Earning an outstanding 972 points, the most by any athlete in a single Heptathlon event, Bartnett jumped from seventh into second place going into the final event of the day. The last event of the competition would be the 1000-meter run, where Barnett managed to pull through with yet another personal best on the day.
“The competition was very close going into the 1K,” Bartnett said. “And that was awesome because we were there to compete. The pressure and adrenaline were there which made it even more meaningful of a race. Ultimately I gave it all I had, and I am happy with the outcome.”
Clocking 2:43.9 at the finish line, Barnett finished fourth among the field in the event, enough to maintain his second place status and claim the silver medal. The senior ended the competition with a total 5238 points, crushing the previous Centennial Conference record by 97 points and marking the sixth best point total in D-III history.
While Barnett spent most of his time on the field, Koerner was busy running laps around the North Central College Carius track.
Entering the 2017 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships, Koerner was said to be the clear-cut favorite in both the 3000-meter and 5000-meter races, according to the USTFCCCA meet preview. Koerner held a 15-second and 17-second advantage over the field in the 3000-meter and the 5000-meter, respectively. Plus, earlier this season, Koerner ran the second fastest 3000-meter time in NCAA D-III history.
Koerner would kick off her NCAA appearances with the 5000-meter run Friday evening. Koerner paced the field as they went through the first mile and a half in 7:57. However, junior Taryn Cordani of Ithaca College, made her move in the following lap, passing Koerner and never looking back.
Unfortunately, Koerner would not be able to recover from Cordani’s move halfway through the race. She fell to 16th place out of a field of 17 runners. Meanwhile, Cordani would go on to win the race, pasting a new meet record and finishing 23 seconds ahead of the next runner.
Less than 24 hours later, Koerner toed the line for the 3000-meter race. For the first eight laps, Koerner ran cautiously, running directly behind the leader for the first mile.
With 5:30 on the clock, Koerner made the move to the front of the pack where she kept a solid pace and began to build a small lead over Cordani, who trailed in second place, heading into the lap. Again, Cordani would battle Koerner until the end, using a 35.5-second final lap to kick her way past Koerner and take the double NCAA title.
Koerner claimed second with a time of 9:44 and received her first track & field All-American honors, adding to the All-American honors she received in cross country this fall.