Yeowomen Capture Second Straight NCAC Title


OC Athletics

The women’s indoor track and field team secured their second consecutive NCAC championship Saturday, edging out second- place Ohio Wesleyan 197.5–177.5.

The women’s indoor track and field team captured their second straight North Coast Athletic Conference Championship last Saturday, continuing their historic streak of success that has included multiple NCAC, regional, and national honors for players and coaches alike. The Yeomen also came out strong, finishing sixth overall with 60 points.

“The team competed with a sense of joy and a sense of purpose all weekend long,” Head Track and Field Coach Ray Appenheimer wrote in an email to the Review. “Personally, I was grateful that the rest of the conference got to see what makes this team so special. We really all were our best selves this weekend. I couldn’t be prouder.”

For the past three years, the Yeowomen have been buoyed by their sensational shot-put and weight throw events; this year, they placed six of the team’s members in the top eight both Friday and Saturday. Highlighting both days of the meet were seniors Ana Richardson and Monique Newton, with Newton winning the shot-put event Friday with a season-best toss of 48’02.75 and Richardson winning the weight throw event with an NCAC record toss of 60’05.00 Saturday. Newton — who has won the NCAC shot-put event three times now, and entered Friday as the sixth-ranked shot-putter in the nation — had a performance now ranked second-best in the country, while Richardson’s throw is just one of four to have reached over 60 feet this year.

“Ana and Mo are ranked amongst the best in the nation,” Appenheimer said. “All they need to do is believe in their preparation and be present in the moment they are given. If they do those two things, their success is assured.”

The Yeowomen runners also dominated the event, as senior Lilah Drafts-Johnson, juniors Imani Cook-Gist and Ify Ezimora, and sophomore Jillian Doane clinched a 4×200 season-best time of 1:46.38, earning a second-place spot. During Friday’s 400-meter dash preliminaries, Drafts- Johnson clocked in her personal best and a record-breaking NCAC time with a 56.87 finish, only to win the NCAC Sprints/Hurdles Runner of the Year title the following day when she came in first place in the 400-meter dash finals with a time of 58.67. Later in the day, Drafts- Johnson continued to win the 200-meter dash with a 25.78 finish, closely followed by the 26.56 time of fellow teammate Cook-Gist.

“Our preseason was not as smooth as we had hoped,” Drafts-Johnson said. “But the meet was really incredible, [and] I’ve never seen my teammates compete the way they did. I felt a bit of anxiety because I was coming back from a hamstring injury, … so I was definitely really nervous [about that]. But everyone did a really good job of using their nerves as fuel instead of crumbling under [them].”

With the regular season at its end, multiple Yeowomen performers will enjoy postseason play as well as regional awards and honors. In addition to NCAC honors, Newton won the Great Lakes Region Field Athlete of the Year award for the second consecutive season, Appenheimer won Great Lakes Region Head Coach of the Year, and Throwing Coach John Hepp won Assistant Coach of the Year. Cook-Gist and junior Linnea Halsten also earned All-Region honors.

For the Yeomen, senior James Tanford and junior Jahkeem Wheatley highlighted Oberlin’s performance in very different events. Tanford stood out in Friday’s competition with a season- best and third-place finish in the triple-jump at the 44-04.75 mark. He also clinched a fourth- place and lifetime-best jump of 21-07.50 in the long jump. Meanwhile, Wheatley shone in the pole vault event on Saturday, effectively clearing 14-05.50 in just one attempt and earning the conference champion title. Ending the meet were Tanford, first-year Malachi Clemons, junior John Olsen, and sophomore Dylan Rogers in the 4×400 with a second-place finish of 3:25.77.

Wheatley said he is excited about his performance and what is in store for the future of the team.

“It feels amazing just to win a conference title,” he said. “I feel like [people should] watch out for Oberlin College’s men’s and women’s track and field teams. I feel like this year is just the start of what is going to be a pretty dominant men’s and women’s teams next year.”

Newton, Richardson, and Drafts-Johnson will compete in the NCAA National Championships in Birmingham, AL, today and tomorrow.