The Orion

Wildcats await NCAA Championships

Emerson Keenan

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Chico State pole vaulter, Dalton McBride, watches as he swings himself over the beam. Photo credit: Emily Teague

Winning the California Collegiate Athletic Association men and women’s track and field championships is becoming a norm for Chico State. Both teams have won the annual championship every year since 2010, including this year.

Wildcat athletes and coaches also brought in a majority of the hardware at the event. Kasey Barnett received the women’s CCAA’s Field Athlete of the Year for the second time, J Patrick Smith won the men’s CCAA co-Field Athlete of the Year, also for the second time and Ashley Jones was chosen as the conference’s Newcomer of the Year.

Womens’ coach Robert Nooney and men’s coach Oliver Hanf both won CCAA track and field coaches of the year for their respective teams. The goal now is to have the athletes succeed at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships May 22-24 in Allendale, Michigan.

The way to qualify for the championships is either by hitting a provisional qualifying mark or hitting an automatic qualifying mark in the athletes’ events. A handful of Wildcats have hit automatic qualifying marks and several have hit provisional qualifying marks.

“If there is a tie with other athletes around the country, they (the selection committee) may take the athlete if they are already competing in another event,” said Brian Beeman, assistant track and field coach. “Or they may break the tie and take the next best mark that athlete made.”

Qualifying marks don’t guarantee a spot at the championships, as athletes must have a high enough mark on the list to make it.

“So we could say six are in and six are still fighting to make it this weekend from the guy’s side,” Hanf said. “Our goal for the men is to get 10 athletes out there.”

The five male athletes that have hit auto-qualifying marks are decathletes Smith, John Brunk, Theodore Elsenbaumer, Alex McGuirk in the steeplechase and Isaac Chavez in the 10,000-meter.

Barron Maizland, who competes in the steeplechase, is on the bubble but is likely to make it to nationals, Hanf said.

Ayla Granados is the only Wildcat to earn an automatic qualifying mark with her time in the 1,500-meter Saturday. Some will still likely make it to Michigan due to having a high enough mark.

Barnett in the high jump and pole vault, Granados in the 5,000-meter, Sara Mikesell in the 10,000-meter, Olivia Watt in the 800-meter and the record-breaking 400-meter relay team all look promising to make it, Nooney said.

Athletes who score, being the top finishers in a specific event, are considered All-American.

“Kasey’s got a good shot at becoming an All-American, something she missed by one spot last year,” Nooney said.

Both coaches felt they fulfilled their goal of winning the CCAA title and the athletes going to nationals have the potential to succeed.


Chance Keenan can be reached at [email protected] or @chancelikelance on twitter.

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Wildcats await NCAA Championships