All-Americans Galore for Oberlin Track and Field


Courtesy of D3photography

Sarah Voit sails through the air during pole vault to earn indoor All-American honors.

The NCAA indoor track and field championships were a massive success for the Oberlin Yeowomen in North Carolina this past weekend, including two top-five finishes and two All-American nominations. The weekend was kickstarted with third-year weight thrower Iyanna Lewis and fourth-year pole vaulter Sarah Voit, who both ended with All-American recognition. Fourth-year and pentathlon athlete Clare Tiedemann also set a school record and personal best. The weekend closed with fourth-year triple jumper Malaika Djungu-Sungu, who posted a strong 11.36 meters and improved from the 19th to 17th seed.

Sarah Voit had a remarkable performance in the pole vault, topping her own program record of 3.9 meters with a 3.95-meter finish and a second-place finish. Despite her success, Voit says that the championship performance hasn’t hit her yet.

“Just focusing on doing the best that I could at the meet and then after the meet was over, it’s back to work and school and training and the rest of life,” she said.

Voit’s 3.95 meters put her in a tie for first with Ithaca College’s Meghan Matheny. They both failed to clear the 4-meter bar, leading to a tiebreaker that Voit unfortunately lost, due to having more faults. This kind of tight battle in the championships would get in a lot of athletes’ heads, but not Voit’s. 

Honestly, I was not really thinking about that at the moment, you know, I get into competition mode and really control and repress all unnecessary emotions during the competition” Voit said. “Pole vault is hard enough to think about, and if I really started to think about how high the bars are that I’m jumping at or actually realize that I am battling for a national title with one other competitor, that kind of awareness and pressure in the moment is too much, and I’d probably end up crumbling under that sort of mindfulness.” 

However, this doesn’t signal the end for the fourth-year, as she’s planning on finishing on an even higher note in the spring season. 

“My goals are to get into a better mindset than I had indoors, so I can enjoy the season more and take more pride in my accomplishments; to stay physically healthy; and to improve some technique aspects of my jump,” she said. “If I do all these things, I’ll be able to jump well, be in a great spot to win outdoor nationals, and be proud of myself regardless of what I do at that specific meet.” 

Iyanna Lewis was the second top-five finish for the Yeowomen, finishing in fourth place after entering as the eighth seed with a personal best and program record of 18.49 meters, passing previous record holder Ana Richardson, OC ’18. Breaking Richardson’s record has been a goal of Lewis’ for a while, and was elated when she realized she finally passed it. 

I memorized Ana Richardson’s mark in hopes that one day I might pass it.” Lewis said. “Seeing the mark, I knew instantly that I had accomplished the biggest goal I had set for myself, and that I could walk away, regardless of what place I got at the meet, knowing that I proved it to myself that I could do it, and knowing that I earned it.” 

Lewis earned this mark through everyday practice in a month-long grind leading up to this moment, and by not questioning any of her coaches’ tactics, or her own abilities. 

The change of coach, the time off due to the pandemic, and not having a season last year led to a jump in progression from her first to her third year. 

“This gave me a new appreciation for what I’m doing because I recognize now that these opportunities are not guaranteed,” Lewis said. “It allows me to come to a competition both with grit and desire to do well but peace in knowing that I’m happy to be there at all.” 

Lewis also made it clear that the new throws coach, Rocco Mitolo, gave her the boost she needed to get to nationals. 

“I think that he did a great job at figuring out exactly what I needed to achieve my goals,” Lewis said. “I have a lot of trust in what he, and and all the other coaches, tell us to do, simply because of how many conference champions, All-Americans, and national champions that have come through this program.” 

Continuing the momentum of the spectacular weekend, pentathlon athlete Clare Tiedemann posted a point total of 3,183, besting her own program record of 3,157 points and moving from the 21st seed to 13th place. Tiedemann was thoroughly impressed with her finish, especially after moving up eight seeds and having a tough start. 

“My opening race, hurdles, wasn’t what I was hoping for it to be and that’s where I usually derive most of my points from,” Tiedemann said. 

Tiedemann, Voit and Lewis, are all looking to build off of their performances in the spring, where they will compete outdoors and are more comfortable. 

I think I am much better at the events I do outdoors,” Tiedmann said. “I’ve improved a lot in the 60-meter hurdles, but those are highly dependent on block starts and the ability to accelerate in a very short time. My strengths, however, are to continue to accelerate over each hurdle for the whole race. So now I have a lot more hurdles to get over and more time to pass competitors!”

The bond between these team members is stronger than ever, as Tiedemann made it clear to me how much her teammates’ success means to her. 

“Seeing my teammates succeed feels just as amazing as succeeding myself,” she said. “I know just how hard they work and how mentally tough they are. Both Iyanna and Sarah have been dealing with injuries and pain and have been doing everything in their power to both take care of themselves and still compete hard. And Malaika has been incredibly busy this semester and last balancing so many things on top of track and still steadily improving all season.”

This tight-knit group put together one of the most memorable performances in Oberlin athletic history, and all four will look to improve on their already jaw-dropping numbers in the outdoor season.


CORRECTION: an earlier version of this article inaccurately stated that Sarah Voit is a fourth-year at Oberlin College. Voit took a year off and is currently a third-year at Oberlin College.