UCM sends 11 athletes to NCAA Championships

Written by Muleskinner Staff

(INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.) – Seven Mules and four Jennies will head to Birmingham, Ala. next month, to compete at the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships, taking place March 8-9.
Leading the way for the Jennies will be junior Erin Alewine, who will compete in a team-high three events. The Jefferson City native is qualified for the indoor pentathlon, high jump, and long jump. Her score of 4,152 points in the pentathlon at the season-opening meet at Doane (Neb.) College stood as the nation’s top mark all season. Alewine also ranks 3rd in Division II in the long jump, and 5th in the high jump.
The indoor pentathlon will be a big opportunity for the Jennies to score points in the championship event; along with Alewine, two other Central Missouri athletes qualified for the pentathlon, including this season’s MIAA champion, Zoe Sharplin, and All-MIAA performer Madison Smith. Sharplin ranks 3rd nationally in the pentathlon, while Smith holds the 12th-best mark in Division II this season.
The men’s heptathlon will also be an important event for the Mules, who have two athletes qualify for nationals. Senior Brent Vogel, who posted the nation’s best score at the season-opening Doane Multi-Events as well, won the 2011 national championship in the outdoor decathlon, and will look for his first national title at the indoor championships. Fellow senior Carl McCargo also qualified for the pentathlon, and will look for his first career All-American honor.
Also for the Mules, senior distance runner Laban Sialo will have the opportunity to defend his national title in the men’s 5,000-meter run, where he is currently ranked 12th this season. Sialo also qualified for the 3,000-meter run, which will be a championship event at the NCAA meet for the first time this season. Sialo won the MIAA title in both races last week, at the MIAA Championships last week in the Multipurpose Building.
A pair of freshmen will make their first national championship appearance in three events, in Kellin Loch, and Meelis Siimson. Loch, a native of Warrensburg, qualified in the 800 meter run, after his MIAA Championship-winning time of 1:52.43. Loch currently ranks 16th in the 800-meters nationally this season. Siimson, who won the conference title in the triple jump, and earned All-MIAA honors in the long jump, will compete in both events in Birmingham. His jump of 49′ 1.75″ (14.98m) that won the conference title in the triple jump places Siimson 11th on the national performance list, while his performance at the Iowa State Classic earlier this season in the long jump ranks 16th nationally.
Two throwers who earned All-American honors at last year’s outdoor championship will look for strong performances at the indoor meet, in senior Zak Thompson and sophomore Brooke Swearingin. Thompson and Swearingin were both named All-Americans in the discus last May. Thompson will compete in the shot put for the Mules, while Swearingin will look to become the first Jennies’ All-American in the weight throw in program history. A native of Walnut Grove, Mo., Thompson ranks 13th nationally in the shot put; Swearingin, originally from Odessa, Mo., is 17th on the women’s weight throw performance.
Junior high jumper Devin Claypool earns his first trip to the NCAA Championships, with his winning mark of 6′ 10.75″ (2.10m) at the UCM Mule Relays earlier this season. Claypool was an All-MIAA performer in the high jump last week, placing third. He goes into the NCAA Championships ranked 10th in Division II.
The NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championships kick off on Friday, March 8; a webcast of the two-day event will be available at www.NCAA.com.