The Chargers competed at the NCAA Division II Championships held in Birmingham, Ala. at the Birmingham CrossPlex on March 7 through March 9. The team competed in eight events, making it to finals in one.
Senior Kayla Caldwell placed third in the pole vault, sealing her sixth All-American title. Caldwell cleared 13 feet, 11 inches on Friday, and had the second highest clearing by any competitor.
The weekend did not run as successfully for her teammates.
“Everything that could go wrong, went wrong,” head coach Jeff Forino said.
Junior Maurice Jones, ranked third in the 400-meter dash, strained his hamstring mid-race. Although he felt slight tension in his muscle the week before, he thought that he could make it through the weekend.
“170 meters into my race, I felt my hamstring pop,” he said. “I watched my national championship run away from me.”
Sophomore Matthew Perkins also suffered due to circumstances beyond his control. While competing in the mile, Perkins was knocked down. The runner in front of him stepped on someone else, causing Perkins to fall down. Despite getting up and finishing his race, Perkins could not catch up.
Junior John Banovetz did not have his best competition. After having a rough warm-up, Banovetz was not able “to get back into a rhythm,” Forino said.
Despite the external circumstances, Forino said the meet was a good learning experience for the men’s team.
“They showed a huge amount of intention and priorities by stepping up,” Forino said. “And the way they represented the school is great.”
The women’s team suffered a similar fate. In the Distance Medley Relay, consisting of senior Erin Benjamin, junior Victoria McCaffrey, sophomore Amy Kerst, and freshman Emily Oren, the women struggled to stay competitive. Kerst had to compete in the 800-meter run and then the DMR, making her split slower than her previous times.
Kerst and Orren, who also ran the mile, both competed in NCAA Championships for the first time.
“We didn’t quite separate ourselves like we did last year,” head women’s coach Andrew Towne said. “We are a very young team, but it’s a lesson every good program has to learn.”
The Chargers are excited to get into the outdoor track season and do not feel discouraged from the meet this weekend.
“We feel like we have some unfinished business,” Jones said. “We are itching to prove that we can be national champions.”