It took a disqualification, but the Carroll College Saints' 1,600-meter women's relay team was crowned national champions on Saturday at the NAIA Indoor Track & Field Championships in Johnson City, Tennessee.
Carroll’s squad -- consisting of Keely Ehmann, Kara Barth, Brianna Olson and Monica White -- finished in a school-record time of 3:48.42, nearly two seconds ahead of third-place Indiana Tech.
Southern University-New Orleans won the race going away. Awards were handed out, Pictures were taken on the podium and everything seemed to be alright for the champions, but then it wasn’t. Before the race, SUNO failed to check into with meet officials; the team was disqualified. The champion would be the Carroll women, earning the first NAIA relay title in school history.
“We would have preferred to win the title without the drama,” coach Harry Clark said. “Regardless of the outcome, our girls do the little things right. They work very hard and pay attention to the details. They will be national champions for the rest of their lives, and that is something to be excited about.”
The 4x400 team came away with the lone title for the Saints, who finished fourth overall with 34.5 points -- a mere half-point behind St. Francis, which took home the fourth-place trophy. The finish is the highest in program history.
“I am disappointed that we didn’t come home with hardware, but this team is doing everything right,” Clark said. “People know who we are, they know what we bring. I have never been more fired up for the direction that we are heading and I am excited about the spring and what we can accomplish.”
The men finished in a tie for 41st, scoring four points at the meet.
The Saints walked away from the championships with five All-American honors on Saturday, bringing the program's total to 11 fro the meet. Chance Hyatt, Samantha Mundel, Leah Esposito (twice), Barth and the women’s 4x400 team all garnered All-American finishes.
In the women’s 400, Barth placed fifth, finishing in a time of 57.38.
Sophomore Annika Moore finished 17th in the triple jump, leaping 36-5.50. The winning time of 55.72 came from Jenna Moody of St. Francis (Illinois).
Saints distance star Esposito finished third in the mile, running a time of 4:57.62. She finished behind Oklahoma City’s Aminat Olowora who won in a time of 4:48.01 and Anna Shields of Point Park who finished in a time of 4:51.39.
Esposito finished the 1,000-meter in seventh place, running a time of 3:01.49.
On the men’s side of the mile, Carroll sophomore Hyatt placed fifth, running a 4:15.73. He was three seconds behind Jackson Thomas of Bacone, who won the title in a time of 4:12.38.
Chris Emter finished ninth in the shot put, hurling a toss of 52-9.50. Concordia’s Zachary Lurz won the event, throwing 58-6.75.
Crystal Schmidt was listed on the high jump final roster, but did not record a height on Saturday.
Mundel place sixth in the 3,000, recording a 9:57.85. Olowora of Oklahoma City also won this distance event, running a time of 9:46.78.
Carroll’s Janie Reid finished ninth in the 5,000-meter run, finishing with a time of 17:48.90.