Ithaca College Women’s Track & Field Crowns Three National Champions

By Justin Lutes, March 16, 2017

Women’s Track & Field Crowns Three National Champions

The Ithaca College women’s track & field program finished as the national runner-up at the NCAA Division III Championships on March 10-11 in Naperville, Ill., which was hosted by North Central College. It is the highest finish in school history for Ithaca in either season, as the Bombers totaled 41.25 team points.

The previous best finish for the Bombers at the national meet was a sixth place showing at the 2011 Outdoor Championships. Ithaca's indoor program never finished better than 11th, which occurred twice in 1991-92 and 2002-03.

Washington University of St. Louis (44 points) edged out Ithaca for the national title by 2.75 points. Wash U. needed at least a third place finish in its final event of the championships, the 4x400-meter relay, and finished second overall. A fourth place finish by the Bears would have given the Bombers the national title by .25 points.

Over the course of the two-day championships, the Bombers earned three individual national titles. Senior Katherine Pitman claimed her second career title in the pole vault, while junior Taryn Cordani prevailed as the top runner in the 3,000- and 5,000-meter runs.

In the 5K on March 10, Cordani posted an NCAA Division III meet record with a time of 16:28.15  to become the 25th student-athlete to win a national championship at Ithaca. The Douglas, Mass. native, topped the previous DIII record by 4.7 seconds, which was set by Lenore Moreno of La Verne in 2014 with a time of 16:32.85. She also shattered her own school record and the facility record at North Central College by 30 seconds.

Through eight minutes of the race, Cordani sat comfortably in second place. She then made her move to the front of the pack on the 12th lap, and by the 10:30 mark, began to lap the field.

Cordani clocked splits between 37.65 and 41.19 seconds, but then turned it on during the final lap and finished in 35.56 seconds.

The following afternoon in the 3K, she bested the field of 17 entries with a facility record time of 9:42.43. Cordani won the race by nearly two seconds and set the Al B. Carius Track record by nearly five seconds. She also re-established her own school record by .42 seconds.

She jumped out in front of the pack on the opening lap and paced the field until the eighth lap. The eventual runner up, Felicia Koerner, of Johns Hopkins, pulled ahead of Cordani by just .017 seconds as they completed the ninth lap. Koerner led by nearly a second after 11 laps, and held onto that lead, until Cordani blew by her on the final lap to win by 1.89 seconds.

At the pole vault pit on the 10th, Pitman set an NCAA Division III meet record with a mark of 4.18 meters (13 feet, 8.5 inches).

Pitman, who set the Division III indoor record this season at 4.25 meters, surpassed the previous DIII national meet record by .01 meters (4.17 meters), which was set back in 2011 by Abigail Schaffer of Moravian College. She now holds the Division III meet record in both the indoor and outdoor championships, as she claimed the 2016 outdoor title with a cleared height of 4.21 meters.

The Swampscott, Mass. native entered the event at 3.85 meters and was successful on her first run. She then cleared 3.90 and 3.95 meters on her first try, and passed on 4.00 and 4.05 meters. Pitman made quick work of the 4.10 bar and then advanced past 4.18 meters on her third run.

With the national title already locked up after she cleared 3.95 meters, Pitman attempted to set the all-time Division III record of 4.28 meters, and just narrowly clipped the bar on her second attempt to knock it off its support.

The three titles runs Ithaca's all-time individual national champions count to 37.

Not to be overshadowed, senior Brandy Smith earned two All-American performances in the shot put and weight throw, while freshman Beth Cripps claimed her first All-America nod in the pole vault.

Smith placed sixth in the weight throw with a mark of 17.81 meters (58 feet, 5.25 inches) during the morning session of the championships on March 10. She began the event at 16.30 meters and then measured out 16.60 meters on her second heave. Her third attempt was her best mark at 17.81 meters. After fouling on her next two attempts, Smith posted a mark of 17.76 meters.

On Saturday the 11th, Smith opened up competition with a second place finish in the shot put. Smith posted the top mark in the field of 14.91 meters on her first attempt, and held onto that position until the final heave by Monique Newton of Oberlin measured out 15.56 meters. Smith stepped into the circle for her final attempts and launched a 15.21-meter (49 feet, 11 inches) throw to come up just short of the national title, but in the process, set a new school record by nearly a meter.

It is her fourth and fifth career All-American performances, as she is a two-time national champion in the discus and placed third in the weight throw last year.

In her first career national meet, Cripps tied for eighth in the pole vault at 3.60 meters (11' 9.75") to run Ithaca's all-time total of All-Americans in track & field to 106, including 50 during the indoor season. She cleared 3.45 and 3.60 meters on her first attempts, but was unsuccessful on all three runs at 3.75 meters. Due to clearing 3.45 and 3.60 on her first tries, Cripps earned All-America position.

The track & field program now has 108 All-Americans – 52 during indoor and 56 in outdoor – dating back to 1986.