Waverly, IA – The final day of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship featured some of the gutsiest performances we've seen all season. Todd Ford, Katakyie Ofori-Atta, Steven Yannacone, and Bijan Mazaheri competed in their respective finals and gave it their all on another muggy day in Iowa.
The Ephs finished 18th overall with 15 points. University of Wisconsin–La Crosse won with 41 points.
Todd Ford was first up on the track. He went out in his usual spot towards the back in the 1500m, and the bunched up race went along at pace for the first two laps. The pace picked up over the two laps and the field began jostling hard for position. Ford left everything on the track and walked away with a 10th place finish in 3:55.34.
Kat Ofori-Atta came back to complete the 100m final. He got out of the blocks extremely well, and fought hard against the horrid headwind. Kat finished 7th overall, clinching All-American honors, in a time of 11.01 seconds.
Steve Yannacone ran against the toughest 800m field of his collegiate career. He stayed right with the pack through 400m and pressed on as the field started to spread out. Yannacone also clinched All-American honors, finishing 8th overall in 1:55.91.
Bijan Mazaheri came back today to complete the incredibly difficult 10000m/5000m double. On Friday, Mazaheri placed 4th in the 10000m despite struggling against the heat, so much so that he didn't make it up to the podium after the race. Today was a brand new day. Mazaheri went out towards the back of the field to start and when the top 7 started to distance themselves from the field, he went right with them. As the field started to thin, Bijan found himself in a familiar spot, battling for a 3rd/4th place spot. He powered through the rain and the humidity, and willed himself to win the final battle of his collegiate career. Bijan willed himself to a 3rd place finish, beating his opponent on the final lap to cross the line in 14:35.40.
Eph head coach Ethan Barron offered great praise for Mazaheri after the race. "I couldn't think of a better performance to epitomize and conclude the 2016 season than Bijan's 5k. Through tenacity and pure grit he willed himself to overcome all expectations," he explained. "It may have been him alone on the track, but it was for the team. It was a full team effort of coaches, trainers, and teammates."