The Mountaineers at the NCAA DII National Championship Festival
Nicholas A Fischer/Staff Writer
Over the weekend of Mar. 7-11, eleven Mountaineers from Western’s Wrestling, Swimming and Diving, and Track and Field teams qualified and travelled to the NCAA DII National Championship Festival in Birmingham, Alabama.
Junior Alicia Konieczek continued her run through the Western record books as she became the first Mountaineer to win National Championships in two events. Konieczek edged out Admas State’s Jenna Thurman by just over half a second in the Women’s 3000m with a time of 9:23.19. Konieczek’s won the championship in the Women’s mile by 3.54 seconds with a time of 4:37.42, a school record. In addition, Konieczek has the school record in the 3000m with a time of 9.17.90, which she posted earlier this year.
While Konieczek had the most success, her fellow teammates’, Senior Georgia Porter and Junior Sophie Seward, performances helped Western’s women team to an eighth place finish at the National Championships. In the the 3000m, Porter finished eighth while Seward was fourteenth. Seward and Porter finished in seventh and eighth place in the Women’s 5000m. Seward and Porter’s times in the 5000m and 3000m were also good enough to earn positions in Western’s record books.
Konieczek, Porter, and Seward became All-American with their top ten finishes at the National Championships. This goes along with the All-American honors the trio earned at the Cross Country National Championships this past fall. They will have a chance to earn All-American honors in the coming outdoor track and field season.
Western’s Men’s Track and Field also experienced some success at the National Championship, with Seniors Noah Zorsky and Keifer Johnson having strong showings. Zorsky became an All-American with a second-place finish in the final round of the Poll Volt after clearing a height of 5.25m. Johnson finished sixteenth in the 5000m finals and nineteenth in 3000m finals.
Representing Western in Swimming and Diving at the National Championships, were Sophomore RMAC Swimmer of the Year, Randi Yarnell and Junior Diver, Jessica Anderson. Anderson was unable to qualify during the preliminaries and Yarnell was swimming through an illness and did not break the top 20 in her four events.
Western’s Wrestling team was represented at the National Championships by Senior, Ronald Wardleigh at 125 lbs., Junior, Ian Steen at 149 lbs., Sophomore, Brandon Supernaw at 174 lbs., and Freshmen, Konnor Schmidt at 184 lbs. All four drew strong competition for their first matches of Championship rounds and lost. Wardleigh, Supernaw, and Schmidt won their first matches in the Consolation Round, before being eliminated in their next matches. Steen was eliminated in first match of the Consolation Round.
Even though Western’s Swimming and Diving and Wrestling did not see the same success and the Track and Field teams at the NCAA DII National Championship Festival, just qualifying for them was an admirable feat. To reach that level of competition it takes year of dedication, hard work, and support of teammates, coaches, friends, and families. Each athlete represented Western well on what is one of NCAA DII grandest stages.