Men’s track and field team shares national title at indoor championship

Victory marks 24th NCAA national championship in school history

The men's track and field team celebrates winning a national championship. (Photo: WashU Athletics)

For the first time in program history, the Washington University in St. Louis men’s track and field team won a team national championship March 12 at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem, N.C., site of the 2022 Indoor Track & Field Championships.

In an extraordinary display, the Bears battled until the end, and WashU was ultimately named co-national champions with University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

WashU has now won 24 NCAA national championships overall, and this victory marked the first team national title for the Bears since the women’s cross country squad won in 2018.

The deciding factor for the national championship was the day’s final race, the 4×400 relay. The Bears’ relay team finished the race as national runner-up, which would vault WashU into first in the team standings. But multiple protests were filed following the race’s conclusion.

It took nearly two hours, but eventually, WashU was indeed declared national runner-up in the race, sealing the team’s tie with UW-Eau Claire at 35 team points for a shared national title.

Following the ruling, the Bears celebrated in jubilation. Head Coach Jeff Stiles and staff had an emotional celebration, with hugs and tears flowing. Stiles has since been named National Men’s Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

Athletes Harry MillsJohn Harry Wagner, Andrew Whitaker and Marcus-Jay Wilkes earned the runner-up finish to clinch the national championship. Their time of 3:16.79 marked an all-time top 10 performance and was the third-best race in program history. Additionally, the group earned All-American honors as they helped guide the Bears to their first men’s track and field national title.

In the afternoon session, the Bears climbed up the team standings after Whitaker won the national championship in the 60-meter hurdles and Gio Alfred posted a seventh-place All-American finish.

Whitaker outlasted his opponent by five-thousandths of a second, marking a time of 7.943, setting a personal record and ranking second in WashU history.

Whitaker’s national title also marked the Bears’ second individual national championship for the weekend. The men’s team of Jeff CandellAlex CobinJackson Cox and Jacob Ridderhoff set a new indoor championship record in the distance medley relay (DMR) with a time of 9:54.26 in a thrilling race. 

Ridderhoff put together an amazing effort down the stretch, compiling a 4:05.6 overall time and, in the final leg, anchoring a massive come-from-behind victory. 

Carrying the momentum over into the 3000m, Ridderhoff had another amazing performance, earning a fourth-place finish at 8:18.22, collecting All-American honors and setting the stage for the Bears’ 4×400 relay team to bring home the national title.

The women’s track and field team earned a hard-fought fifth-place finish at the indoor championship. WashU had several great individual performances and recorded several All-American honors, along with two all-time top 10 performances.

Beginning the day in the triple jump, Ebunoluwa Opata and Alicia Gupte both earned All-American honors. Opata collected fifth place with an 11.95m mark, while Gupte placed seventh at 11.88m, earning a new personal record and ranking fourth all-time in school history in the event. 

WashU now gets set for the outdoor season, which begins March 26 at home.

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