On Feb. 25 and 26, the Lords and Ladies traveled to Wittenberg University to compete in the NCAC Championships. Despite some individual successes, the Ladies finished in eighth place, while the Lords finished ninth.
Both days of competition were closed to the public, which meant that it was up to the teams to create a lively atmosphere, according to Paula Sorić ’25. “Because of COVID-19 restrictions, spectators weren’t allowed so each team tried really hard to support their teammates,” she wrote to the Collegian.
The Ladies kicked off the first day of competition with a fifth-place finish from Sorić in the long jump, where her best jump of 16 feet, 9 ¾ inches (5.12 meters) earned Kenyon four points in the standings.
Kenyon’s next points came in the 5000-meter race, where Emma Becker ’22 excelled: She finished in second place, earning eight points for the Ladies. Becker ran a season-best time of 18:04.11, while Ella Wilson ’23 earned four points for her fifth-place finish, crossing the finish line at a personal best of 18:36.83. In the 60-meter hurdles preliminaries, Grace Neuger ’24 qualified for the finals with an eighth-place ranking (9.68 seconds).
Sierra Smith ’22 qualified for the 400-meter finals with a time of 1:03.14. In the distance medley, a team of Hailey Napier ’22, Madelyn Son ’25, Cecily King ’23 and Katarina Yepez ’22 finished eighth (13:39.51). By the end of day one, the Ladies sat in fifth place with 30 points, trailing Ohio Wesleyan University by 29 points. Oberlin College held a wide margin for first place, their 71 points providing a 30-point cushion ahead of second-place College of Wooster.
The first points of the second day of competition began with the triple jump for the Ladies. Sorić took second place, earning the team eight points with her best jump of 37 feet, 7 ¼ inches (11.46 meters).
Sorić’s second-place finish was not an easy achievement, especially after she fouled on her first jump. She said that it was a challenge not to overthink her next jumps after she fouled. “My thoughts were rushing because I knew the jump I fouled was good and I was anxious about making the same mistake again,” she wrote. “I try to remind myself that one foul doesn’t determine my whole series, but I’m also aware that there are certain things that have led to my foul and they need to be worked on.” After collecting her thoughts, Sorić went on to perform a jump of 36 feet, 10 ¼ inches (11.23 meters), which broke the Kenyon record she set in the triple jump. But she wasn’t done after that: She broke the school record again on her fifth and best jump.
In the shot put, Erasmia Yager ’23 finished eighth with a best throw of 33 feet, 3 ¾ inches (10.76 meters), setting a personal best and earning the Ladies one point in the standings. After finishing eighth in the preliminary races, Neuger earned a seventh-place finish and two points for Kenyon in the 60-meter hurdle finals (9.81 seconds). In the 400-meter finals, Smith took home eighth place in 1:02.93. Her finish was a season best and also earned the Ladies a point.
Kenyon’s final points of the day came in the 3000-meter race. Becker finished third and earned the team six points with her time of 10:34.41, a season-best time. The meet wrapped up with the 4×400 meter relay, where a team of Smith, Abby McCarty ’22, Davida Harris ’22 and Logan Vidal ’25 finished eighth and earned one point in the standings (4:22.73).
Despite their hard-fought efforts, the Ladies finished last with 37 points at the end of two days of competition. Oberlin held onto first, earning the NCAC title with 166.5 points, while the College of Wooster and DePauw University tied for second place (101 points).
In one of two field events on day one, Riley Orth ’24 earned Kenyon their first 10 points of the championships as he won the NCAC title in shot put. On his third throw, Orth threw the shot 51 feet, 5 ½ inches (15.68 meters), making him the only competitor to break the 15-meter mark. This throw broke the Kenyon record of 51 feet, 1 ¼ inches (15.58 meters), which had stood since 1964.
On the track, Tapiwa Gono Phiri ’25 continued his dominance from previous meets, finishing first in the 60-meter dash preliminaries across all heats with a time of 7.08 seconds. This mark broke the Kenyon record he had set a week prior. Gono Phiri said that breaking the Kenyon record serves as extra motivation for him. “My goal is to run faster than I ran previously. So, right now: Three weeks ago, I ran 7.30, and now I’m running 7.03, 7.04 [in practice], so this is like a new goal for me to beat them,” he said.
In the 800-meter preliminaries, Angus Soderberg ’22 qualified for a spot in the finals with his eighth-place finish (1:59.08). Gono Phiri continued his dominant first day as he won his heat in the 200 meter preliminaries, finishing fifth overall with a time of 22.67 seconds. The Lords ended day one in ninth place with 10 points. Wabash College stood in first place with 57.50 points.
Orth started off the second day strong for the Lords, earning 10th place in the weight throw, with his best throw traveling 44 feet, 6 inches (13.56 meters). Kenyon’s first points of the day came from Gono Phiri, who won the conference title in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.02 seconds, improving slightly on his time in the preliminaries. His winning time of 7.02 seconds once again broke the Kenyon record in the race. For Gono Phiri, who had never run the 60-meter dash before coming to Kenyon, breaking records serves as evidence of his hard work. “It shows that I’m in a good place and that I can thrive both mentally and physically,” he said.
The Lords’ next points came from Soderberg in the 800-meter finals. After finishing eighth in the preliminaries, Soderberg improved to finish fourth in the finals with a time of 1:57.79, earning Kenyon five points in the standings. Gono Phiri again helped the Lords’ standing in the 200-meter finals, earning five points with his fourth-place finish (22.52 seconds). The Lords concluded the meet with 30 points, coming in last in the competition. Wabash secured the NCAC title with 151.5 points over two days. At the conclusion of the meet, Gono Phiri was awarded the title of NCAC Newcomer of the Year.
The Lords and Ladies will next compete in the ONU Last Chance Meet in Ada, Ohio on March 4 and 5.