Oredigger women head to Nationals ranked No. 13

NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association released the final poll before the NAIA Track & Field Indoor Championships which take place this week in Brookings, South Dakota. The Montana Tech women’s team jumped 11 spots to No. 13 going into the final indoor meet of the season.

The latest NAIA TFRI reflects actual entries in the national championship meet. Tech has three athletes running in four different events. Senior Becca Richtman is competing in the mile, 3000m, and 5000m. Richtman has the fastest times in the NAIA in all three events this year.

Freshman Hailey Nielsen is competing in the 3000-meter race and Natylia Jacobson is running the 60-meter dash.

“With Becca entering three events seeded first in all of them, we really shot up the rankings. Hailey also comes in seeded 12th and Natylia is 22nd helped as well,” Tech head coach Zach Kughn said. “Becca attempting the ‘triple crown’ is a really big deal. Most people probably think we are crazy, but Becca has been determined to do this for a while now and I as her coach was not going to get in her way. She’s extremely fit and her mind is in an excellent place.

“The regular-season rankings are set up in a way where they assume an athlete can’t pull off doing three events at nationals,” Kughn said. “This final poll is based on the actual entries for the national championship.”

Richtman competes in the semifinal of the 5000 meters on Thursday and the mile on Friday. Nielson and Richtman run in the 3000 meters semifinal on Friday as well. The finals for all three races are on Saturday.

Jacobson runs in the 60 semifinal on Friday with the final on Saturday.

“I’m also excited for Hailey and Tylia to be here as freshman. Being top eight and earning All-American is kind of always the next goal after qualifying for nationals, but that’s not an easy task. Being here as freshman they will get their chance to try and do that, but they will also get big meet experience that will serve them well for years to come.”

The top five teams in the rankings from first to fifth are Indiana Tech, Concordia (Neb.), Hastings (Neb.), William Carey (Miss.), and Marian (Ind.).

— Montana Tech