May 24, 2024

track athletes at nationalsMARION, IN – On the second day of the 2024 NAIA Men's and Women's Outdoor Track and Field Championships from Indiana, the Columbia College Koalas went on to produce three All-Americans and one new school record.

At the end of day two of three, the Lady Koalas sat in 13th place overall with 9 points out of nearly 50 schools that registered points at the National tournament and ahead of every other AAC team.

Rookie sensation and AAC Freshman of the Year, Mackenzie Pringle secured 5 team points for the Koalas late Thursday evening as she overcame muscle cramps to finish in 4th place in the Triple Jump to become an All-American. Pringle couldn't quite find her footing during her first few attempts but managed to secure a place in the final round of jumps with a mark of 12.1 meters. As she sat in 8th place overall heading into her final jump,  Mackenzie showed her mental strength in her final attempt and produced a superb personal-best and school-record mark of 12.57 meters (over 41 feet) to secure 4th place and her All-American status. 
Earlier Thursday, Pringle also competed in the 100 meter Hurdles and came away with a 16th place finish out of 35 athletes with a time of 14.65 seconds. However, it would not be enough to advance to the final round on Friday's day three. Pringle missed the final top 9 qualification time by 0.23 seconds. Pringle was seeded 27th in the Hurdles and improved that slot by 11 places.

Next up in the women's 5,000 meter Racewalk Championship, the multi-time all-American Whatley sisters competed for the final time in their collegiate careers and came away with top 10 finishes and 4 team points for Columbia. Jessica Heiser-Whatley led the Koalas with a sixth-place finish in 26:04 to become an eight-time All-American (indoor and outdoor). Victoria Whatley then came in right behind in 8th place in 26:32 to become the first racewalker in NAIA history to be a nine-time All-American. Also, in her first National track championships, sophomore Mina Shull competed well and moved two places ahead of her seed time to take 14th in 29:58 out of the 21 participants.

Finally, in the men's 5,000 meter Race Walk, junior Dorde Racic kept the momentum going in the hot temperatures. Taking a smart approach to the heat, Dorde started by covering the first couple of laps at the back of the field, knowing he was ranked 26th on time coming into the event. Gradually upping his tempo, Dorde moved through the field to take an impressive 13th, only missing 12th by six thousandths of a second. He went on to set a school record time of 26:01.6 shaving almost a minute off his previous best time. He was also the top AAC finisher as well.

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