Grinnell, IA – The Williams men's track and field team kicked off the NCAA Championships in dramatic fashion today. All three athletes who represented the Ephs on the national stage gave phenomenal efforts and came away with much to be proud of.
The Ephs have 13 points and are tied for fourth place with Monmouth (IL). Wisconsin Eau Claire leads with 23 points.
Katakyie Ofori-Atta '16 was up first for the Ephs in the 60m prelim. After narrowly missing out on the finals last indoor season, he came back charged up and ready to give it his all. Running from the second heat, it was clear after the first that Kat would have to do something special in order to advance. Ofori-Atta flew out of the blocks and pushed himself to new limits, setting a new personal best in the 60m dash for the first time this season. He finished 8th overall and broke his own school record with a time of 6.86 seconds. His time advances him to the final tomorrow by four thousandths of a second.
The 5000m featured the senior duo of Colin Cotton and Bijan Mazaheri. While Cotton has only raced once in the past two months, Mazaheri came in with a string of solid performances across the season. Both Ephs showed the nation that they deserved to be on the biggest Division III stage.
The race went out fairly conservatively and Mazaheri sat behind the leaders, while Cotton ran a little further back. At three minutes in, Mazaheri rocketed to the front of the race and Cotton stayed close, settling in the top six.
While Mazaheri held the lead for the next several laps, Cotton jostled around for position near 8th place. At eleven minutes Mazaheri fell to second, but Cotton moved up through the pack over the next minute. He started to reduce the gap on Mazaheri in the closing laps and with just under 200m to go, he sprinted by Mazaheri and the last lead pack into 2nd place. Cotton held his position to the line, finishing in 14:24.41. Mazaheri fought until the very end, and took 4th place with a time of 14:25.44. Both men earned All-American honors and secured 13 total points for Williams.
With day one of the meet wrapped up, the Ephs turn their attention to the second and final day of NCAAs. Ofori-Atta will return to compete in the 60m final and Mazaheri will compete in the 3000m. Peter Hale '17 will make his track and field NCAAs debut in joining Mazaheri in the 3000m.