LA CROSSE, Wis. – For the first time since 1986 UMass Boston women's track and field owns both the indoor and outdoor national titles as the Beacons hoisted their sixth title in program history and second at the outdoor championship after tying George Fox with a combined 44 points on the final day of the championship meet.
Women's – Tied for 1st (44 pts)
HOW IT HAPPENED
After a long day of competition, which saw Wadeline Jonathas (Gonaives, Haiti) win both the 200- and 400-meter dashes and Taylor Driggers earn her first individual national title in the triple jump, it all came down to the relay teams. The women's 4x100-meter relay notched a third-place finish to give the Beacons a crucial six points, setting up a winner take all situation in the 4x400-meter relay.
Needing just two points to beat out George Fox, the Beacons exhausted from the emotion and competition grabbed an eighth-place finish securing the crucial one point to tie George Fox, and win their second national crown in 2018.
UMass Boston, who was the first-ever Division III track and field program to win national titles in the same year (1986), won their last outdoor national title at UW-La Crosse over 30 years ago. The Beacons and George Fox became the first co-national champs on the women's side since 2008.
The day all started when Driggers put together the best performance of her career in the triple jump. Seeded second coming into the competition, Driggers easily earned a spot in the finals by launching herself 12.06M in her first jump of the day. After taking some time off to compete in the 4x100M relay, Driggers returned to the infield looking to improve upon her second-place standing. On her fifth of six jumps, Driggers launched herself past Whitworth's Kayla Brase (12.11M) with a program-record setting jump of 12.26M. In her final jump of the day, Driggers solidified her standing by shattering her new program record with an even better jump, finishing with an incredible 12.56M (over a foot further than her closest competition).
UMass Boston picked up six more important points in the 4x100M relay. The Beacons got four solid legs across the board and sophomore Olivia Burnes (Paxton, Mass.) held off two teams in the final meters to help the Beacons earn third-place with a time of 46.98 seconds.
With the Beacons closing in on the team leaders at this point, Jonathas took over in the next two events.
The now nine-time national individual champion took the track for the 400M in the first of her two individual track finals. Jonathas caught up with the leaders at the 200 meter mark, took the lead around 250 meters and broke away from the pack over the final 20-25 meters to easily earn her fourth-straight title in the 400 meters. Her time of 54.09 seconds was nearly .5 seconds better than the second-place finisher.
Jonathas put together an even more dominant display in the 200M. She quickly sprinted her way to the lead and cruised down the straight-away, with the winner never in doubt, in her final individual event of the day. Her time of 23.90 seconds was the only sub 24-time in the field and was nearly .7 seconds fatster than second place.
Jonathas' win in the 200M put UMass Boston just 1-point behind George Fox with two events to go. After the conclusion of the 5000M, Jonathas, Driggers, Burnes and senior Lexy Bean (Danvers, Mass.) took the track for the final time. The quartet struggled to keep up with the front pack after an exhausting and very hot weekend, but put together four clean handoffs and their time of 3:49.90 was just .42 seconds out of seventh-place.
BY THE NUMBERS
- Jonathas' nine overall individual national titles are tied for first place all-time amongst all Division III Track & Field athletes. Rhondale Jones of Lincoln University won nine national titles over three years (99-01).
- UMass Boston has now won two national titles in three months. The Beacons had waited 31 years in between titles, after winning four titles (three indoor and one outdoor) between 1985-1987.
- Jonathas is the first athlete in program history to earn five All-American honors in a single weekend. She now sits third all-time in program and school history with her 13 All-American honors.
- Bean and Burnes each earned their first and second career All-American honors on Saturday.
- Driggers was named an All-American four times this weekend and is now a five-time All-American. The senior jumper/sprinter became the first Beacon to win the triple jump at outdoor nationals and only the second Beacon to ever win the event. Ann Brissett won the national title in the triple jump at the 1985 Indoor National Championship Meet.
- Jonathas is the first woman since Wheaton College's Amber James (03-04) to complete the double of the 200M and 400M in back-to-back seasons.
- Jonathas has now won the 400M four times, the 200M three times and also added individual titles in the 60M and long jump at this year's Indoor National Championship Meet.