Wesleyan gunning for two top-8 finishes at track and field national championshipDakota Wesleyan University track athletes Tamika Irvin and Nicole Court-Menendez are in different places in their careers, but this weekend at the NAIA indoor track and field championship they will be in search of the same goal.
By: Aaron Saunders, The Daily Republic
Dakota Wesleyan University track athletes Tamika Irvin and Nicole Court-Menendez are in different places in their careers, but this weekend at the NAIA indoor track and field championship they will be in search of the same goal.
Irvin and Court-Menendez are each hoping to garner NAIA All-American status at the national championships. Both runners are DWU’s only athletes who qualified for the national championships.
“We are excited to be here, we love coming to nationals. … Both Tamika and Nicole have legitimate shots of becoming NAIA All-Americans,” DWU track coach Pat Belling said. “They have worked very hard this year and I think they will be rewarded by the end of this weekend.”
In order to earn All-American status, the athletes must finish in the top eight of their events.
Court-Menendez competes in the 3,000-meter race-walk, which she qualified for with a time of 16 minutes, 28.72 seconds on Jan. 19. at the Illinois College meet in Jacksonville, Ill.
The meet was the first time the freshman from Lewiston, Maine, competed in the event this season. Court-Menendez started competing in the event in high school after her Dad introduced her to the race.
Today, when Court-Menendez steps on the track, it will be her first time competing at the NAIA indoor track and field championships.
“It would be amazing to win the race, but I am looking for a top-eight finish so I can be an All-American,” she said. “… To be successful today, I have to go out with the girls and make sure I stay in contact with them.
“I have been improving so much and I have worked hard and I keep getting better.”
Irvin, a senior, competes in the 200-meter preliminaries rounds at the championships today.
This is Irvin’s third consecutive year competing at the indoor national tournament and sixth national meet, outdoors included, overall.
Last year at the NAIA outdoor national track and field championships, Irvin competed in the 100- and 200-meter dashes and became the first athlete in DWU history to earn multiple All-American honors at the same meet.
“This is season was cake for me,” she said. “I did everything I needed to do. Last year I made All-American as a junior, so coming back this year for indoor was fun.
“I need to have a really good start and get out of my blocks well, because I am in late and run my race as well as I can. … If I make it to the finals of the 200, I will go out and leave it all on the track; no strategy, just go out and run.”