The Hopkins indoor track and field teams have trained all year for this one moment: the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division-III Indoor Track and Field National Championships. Hopkins sent eight women and three men to Boston, Mass. to compete in the final and most important meet of the season.
Previewing their potential while at the Centennial Conference Championships and the All-Atlantic Regional Championships, the Blue Jays came into the weekend prepared and driven to showcase their season’s worth of hard work.
The women qualified for five events. Sophomore Ariel Keklak, sophomore Alexandra Damron, senior Erin Brush and sophomore Therese Olshanaski teamed up for the distance medley relay, entering the race seeded 11th after their Regional Championship victory the week before. The team exceeded their expected finish, as they came in ninth place with a time of 11:50.248. They were only 0.003 seconds behind the eighth-place Bowdoin College.
Senior Emily Stahl ends her indoor career on a high note, as she earned one last chance to compete with an NCAA debut. Stahl qualified for the 3,000-meter run after a 10:04.06 finish at the David Hemery Invitational in February. She finished with the fourth-fastest time in this event in school history. At NCAAs Stahl came 0.15 seconds from beating her personal best.
Junior Caelyn Reilly and sophomore Samantha Levy competed in the 5,000-meter run. Reilly was seeded fifth in the race, with an impressive qualifying time of 16:45.75 earned at the Patriot Games, and won the 5K at the Centennial Conference Championships. For her performance, she was named the Conference Track Athlete of the Year and the Mideast Region’s Track Athlete of the Year. Levy came into the race seeded 17th, after qualifying at the Conference Championships with a time of 17:18.63.
Finishing in fourth place, Reilly came out of the race an All-American. She finished in 16.42.53, significantly beating her qualifying time and earning a new personal best.
Closing out the women was senior Maya Hammonds, who has been a consistent threat throughout her career. Hammonds looked to improve her 10th finish in the long jump at last year’s NCAAs. This year she was seeded third at the Hopkins and Centennial Conference record with a 5.80-meter leap.
Hammonds proved that her Centennial Conference and Mideast Regional Field Athlete of the Year awards were well deserved, as she became the national runner-up. She broke the Hopkins and Conference records yet again this season with a 5.89m leap in the finals. She was only 0.02m behind the first-place finisher. A second-place finish at NCAAs is the best finish in school history and has not been done since senior Felicia Körner took the runner-up spot in the 2017 Championships.
Breaking records has become routine for Hammonds, as she scored the most points in the pentathlon in school history at Conference Championships. She won every event except the shot put, where she finished third. Her performance at Conference Championships put her seeded 10th in the pentathlon at NCAAs, and she earned a total of 445 points.
For the men, junior Matthew Su is competing in his second consecutive NCAA long jump. He finished in ninth last year with a leap of 6.82m. From last year Su has impressively improved his distance. He enters NCAAs with a 7.24m jump and set the Conference record. After his weekend’s performance Su is now a two-time All-American, as he finished in seventh-place at 7.04 meters.
Su commented on his performance, acknowledging both his frustration in coming short of a Championship title and his ability to improve in the upcoming outdoor season.
“It was definitely exciting to be back at NCAAs. I think as a competitor, losing at Championship competitions is always going to be disappointing. It is heartbreaking knowing that a few small adjustments I could have made would have resulted in a better performance and result. But that being said, it is definitely reassuring going on to the outdoor season knowing how much more I am capable of,” he said.
First-year Justin Canedy makes his NCAA debut as just a freshman, as he qualified for not one but two events: the heptathlon and the high jump. He not only set the freshman record for total points scored in the heptathlon but also has the third-highest point total in school history. He placed in seventh at NCAAs and earned All-American honors for his finish.
For the high jump Canedy also set the Hopkins freshman record at the George Mason Patriot Games with 2.05 meters. He just barely trailed his qualifying height with a 2.06-meter finish at NCAAs, which earned him a fifth-place finish and All-American honors.
Canedy comes out of the most competitive weekend of his first collegiate season with two All-American honors. This is an impressive feat for any athlete, let alone a freshman. He joins alumni Andrew Bartnett as the only Blue Jays to earn multiple All-American honors in school history.
Lastly Hopkins sent senior Alex Doran to compete in the 3,000-meter run. He holds the top two times in school history in the 3K and enters NCAAs seeded 18th. He records an impressive time of 8:43.39 in the prelims.
Su reflected on the season as a whole and praises his teammates for their support and successes.
“Seeing the way my teammates are performing is exciting. The returning athletes are doing very well with new PRs all around, and the freshman are adjusting well too,“ Su said. “Overall, it was just a great season in terms of performance for myself as well as my teammates — makes me all the more excited for the outdoor season!”
Hopkins once again makes their presence known, boosting four athletes to All-American status at NCAAs. Of the four All-Americans, only Hammonds will be graduating, so the future of Hopkins indoor track and field is incredibly promising. The Blue Jays close out their indoor season with five top-eight finishes and now turn to mirror — or even surpass — these results in the upcoming outdoor season.