En route to a second-place finish at the 2017 NCAA Division III Outdoor Championships in Geneva, Ohio, two Ithaca College women’s track & field athletes claimed individual national titles. Taryn Cordani won the 10,000 meter run, while Brandy Smith won the discus.
Ithaca totaled 37 total team points to trail only Washington University of St. Louis in the team standings. The second place finish is the best in outdoor school history, as the previous best team finish was sixth in 2011.
Cordani won her race in a time of 34:41:11, the fifth-fastest time in the NCAA Division III Outdoor Championships dating back to 1982, and the fastest performance since 2005. It marked her third straight national championship, as she claimed top honors in the 3,000- and 5,000-meter races during the indoor season.
In rainy conditions at SPIRE Institute, Cordani, who was seeded first in the event, sat in third place over the opening mile of the race. She then made her move to the front of a four-runner pack (Cordani, Amy Regan of Stevens, Felecia Koerner of Johns Hopkins and Audrey Miller of Loras) at the 6:40 mark and maintained that lead up until lap 16 (12:50).
By the 20:13 mark of the race, Cordani and the other three runners began to lap the remainder of the field, which forced the runners to weave in-and-out of Lane 1. Just 42 seconds later, Cordani dropped to third in the lead pack, but moved back up to second at 22 minutes.
Cordani held steady in second place for the next four minutes, until she made her move back to the front at 26:17 (Lap 19). With five laps to go (28:35), Cordani and Regan – a six-time national champion and the defending 10K runner by 20 seconds – began to pull away from the other two runners in the lead pack.
Cordani and Regan stayed close to each other over the final mile, but with two laps to go, Cordani began to separate herself and made her final kick to the finish line. She led Regan by nearly three seconds heading to the final lap, but turned it on and ran her fastest lap of the race at 1:14.597 over the final 400 meters.
Smith claimed her spot atop the podium with a throw of 48.91 meters (160 feet, five inches), the 11th-best performance in the discus national championship since 1982. It was her third-straight outdoor championship in the event, making her just the third student-athlete to win three national discus titles. The other two occurrences took place from 1985-1987 – Veronika Platzer of Grinnell and 1990-1992 – Kristin Kuehl of Concordia-Moorhead.
The wet and rainy conditions seemed to play a role in the performances of the 22 athletes in the field, as five of the top eight seeded entries did not advance past the first three attempts. Along with that, only two of the top eight finishers at the conclusion of competition measured out further than their seed mark.
Smith posted two successful throws on the day, with her national championship heave coming on the second try. She measured out 30.84 meters on her first attempt and then vaulted to the top of the field on her second throw at 48.91 meters, which was nearly two meters further than the runner-up mark of 46.95 meters (154') from Elanta Slowek of Carthage.
Ithaca College also fared well in the pole vault, with Katherine Pitman finishing second. She had won a national title in the event during the indoor season.