Sophomore All-American Corey Thomas captured the first national championship in proram history tonight in the high jump at the NCAA II Indoor Track & Field Championships. (PHOTO BY Blake Wood)
Brookline, Mass., native clears 7-feet, 0.5-inches to win first national championship in program history, fourth ever for Stonehill College
Thomas also qualifies for Saturday's final in the 60-meter hurdles
Men's DMR earns All-America honors with seventh place finish
Thomas won the program's first national championship by clearing 7-feet, 0.5-inches on his second attempt. Indiana (Pa.) University senior Leander Toney also cleared 7-0.5 on his second try, but when neither could clear 7-1.75, Thomas won the tiebreaker by going perfect on his first four heights in the competition, while Toney needed two tries to clear 6-9. Lake Erie College freshman Edward Dudley, who was ranked first nationally entering the competition, placed third by needing three attempts to top 7-0.5.
"It feels awesome," said Thomas. "I came out this year with the goal in mind to just stick to my plan, to warm up great, worry about myself and not everyone else. I didn't expect to win this year, I just wanted to go out and take it and it's a great feeling."
It marks the fourth national championship in Stonehill history as Thomas joins the women's lacrosse program who won a pair of NCAA Division II national titles in 2003 and 2005 and equestrian's 2003 ISHA crown.
Thomas then came back an hour later and qualified for tomorrow's final in the 60-meter hurdles in a school-record 8.09-seconds. (PHOTO BY Blake Wood)
"The thing I have been most impressed this year with is his composure," said head coach Karen Boen, in her 13th year. "(Corey) jumped tonight like he has been doing this his whole life. People look at rankings and just expect everyone to jump that height or better, and that's just not the way it happens under the stress and tension of the event."
Thomas, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Division II East Region Field Athlete of the Year for the second-straight year, earns his third All-America honor in the high jump with his championship winning performance tonight after claiming the honors with third place finishes as a freshman during both the indoor and outdoor seasons. He entered the championships ranked second nationally to Dudley this year after entering the indoor championships first nationally a year ago.
"Two times in my career I have been this proud," said Boen. "What a way to represent Stonehill. The reality of us coaches and his teammates watching him up on the podium accepting the national championship trophy is just surreal."
Thomas rounded out his big night by qualifying for the finals in the 60-meter high hurdles for the first time with a school-record time of 8.09-seconds to finish third in the second preliminary heat and qualify seventh-fastest. He broke his own previous school record of 8.12-seconds set two weeks ago at the New England Championships. Johnson C. Smith University sophomore Andre Collins posted the fastest qualifying time at 7.84-seconds to win heat one, while Chadron State University sophomore Karl McFarlane won heat two in 7.94.
Senior Daniel Pilz earned All-America honors for the second time in his career in the DMR as the Skyhawks placed seventh. (PHOTO BY Blake Wood)
"I feel like a weight was lifted off my shoulders (winning the high jump) and it set me up to do well in the hurdles," said Thomas. "I brought that energy over and turned in a great trial run. I have been set up to peak at the right time, I have PR'd two straight weeks and hopefully I can PR again tomorrow."
"We were concerned the elation he felt (winning the high jump) would be hard to temper," said Boen. "But coach (Richard) Hart did an amazing job this year teaching (Corey) to forget what he has already done and go out and do something else amazing. He had the day of his life."
Stonehill earned All-America honors in the 4000-meter distance medley relay for the fifth time in the past six years by placing seventh with a time of 10:12.85. Shippensburg University won the event in 9:57.25. The Skyhawks led the three entries from the NE-10 and East region in the event with rivals Southern Connecticut State (10:25.54) and the University of Massachusetts Lowell (10:45.07) taking eighth and ninth, respectively.
Running for Stonehill were seniors Daniel Pilz (Newington, Conn./Newington), who earns All-America honors for the second time in his career for this event (2009), Patrick Fullerton (Bradford, Mass./Haverhill) and Nathan Morse (Whitinsville, Mass./Holy Name) and sophomore Sean Hanlon (Georgetown, Mass./St. John's Prep). Pilz ran the opening 1200-meter leg in 3:04.94, and got tripped up near the exchange but was still able to hand the baton to Morse, who was tripped up initially, but still ran the 400-meter leg in 49.97-seconds. Hanlon ran the 800-meter stretch in 1:55.76, before Fullerton ran the anchor mile leg in 4:22.20.
"On a perfect day any one of these teams can win it and any one of these teams can have their worst day, so nothing is given," said Boen. "I would have loved for them to do better, but the reality is everyone is trying to do well and win. Dan (Pilz) ran phenomenally well but unfortunately had a collision on the handoff. We recovered well from that and didn't let it bother us. To come out here with five guys and already have five All-Americans is a good day."
Stonehill, ranked 18th in this week's USTFCCCA Division II national ratings index, sits in fifth place for the team standings with 12 points through four of 16 events completed in the early going. Indiana (Pa.) and Ashland University share the lead after day one with 18 points.
Thomas will run for a second national championship tomorrow night when the hurdles final commences at 7:25 p.m. (EST).
"Tomorrow I'll just relax and do something in the morning to get my mind off of things," said Thomas. "Then get here and be loose for the race. Go for the win."
Live video and live results links will be available via www.ncaa.com through www.stonehillskyhawks.com.