Vercollone, Taxter to represent Skyhawks at outdoor championships for first time
Ward competes at first NCAA Championship
Taxter looks to capture his third All-America performance of the year when he competes in the 1500-meter run at the NCAA Championships this weekend (PHOTO BY Mark Connolly)
EASTON, Mass. (May 22, 2019) – The Stonehill College men's and women's track & field program's three entries to the 2019 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships are aiming for podium finishes when the event, hosted by Texas A&M University-Kingsville, starts on Thursday and runs through Saturday, May 25 at Javelina Stadium in Kingsville, Texas.
Admission for the NCAA Championships is $15.00 per day for adults, and $10 for students (with ID), senior citizens and children. All-session passes are $30 for adults and $20 for students, senior citizens and children. Live results and video links for all three days are available through ncaa.com as well as stonehillskyhawks.com.
Senior All-Americans Lucas Taxter and Stephen Vercollone, along with junior Madison Ward are all making their first appearances at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships. It will mark Taxter's fifth NCAA Championships appearance in his career overall, including cross country (2) and indoor track & field, while Vercollone is making his third NCAA Championships appearance, with two prior for indoor track & field.
Taxter will get Stonehill's schedule underway, when he competes in the 1500-meter run prelims on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. (EDT). He is seeded 18th after his personal-best qualifying time of 3:48.99 to win the New England Championship in New Haven, Connecticut, two weeks ago. He has been placed in the second of two preliminary heats from which the top four finishers, plus the next four best times, will qualify for Saturday's 1500-meter final that is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. (EDT). Taxter is Stonehill's first entry in the 1500-meter run at the NCAA Championships since All-American Patrick Fullerton, '11 finished sixth at the 2011 Championships in 3:57.68.
Ward will compete in the women's high jump final on Friday evening.
Taxter, a four-time All-American over his Stonehill career, will be looking to complete just the second single-season All-America triple crown in program history. He aims to join Stonehill Athletic Hall of Famer Keith Gill, '09, by earning All-America honors for cross country, indoor and outdoor track & field in the same academic year. Taxter finished a program-best 19th (32:57.7) at the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in December and then took seventh in the one mile run (4:13.20) at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Pittsburg, Kansas, in March. He earned All-America honors for the first time in his career as a member of the Skyhawks 4000-meter distance medley relay, running the mile anchor leg, that finished fifth at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships in a then program-record 9:49.12.
In addition to his New England Championship for the 1500-meter run this spring, Taxter earned All-Northeast-10 Conference honors with his second place finish in the event at the NE10 Outdoor Championships on May 4 in 3:54.27. He was also part of Stonehill's NE10 Champion 4x800-meter relay that finished in 7:41.71, and clocked in a fourth place finish at the prestigious Colonial Relays at William & Mary in 3:52.50. Taxter has earned All-East Region honors from the U.S Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) ten times over his career after collecting the honors for the 1500-meters for the third time this spring.
Ward and Vercollone will take the stage at Javelin Stadium on Friday, with the women's high jump final starting at 6:05 p.m. (EDT) and then the men's 800-meter prelims at 7:20 p.m. (EDT). Ward is seeded 14th in the high jump after her school-record height of 5-feet, 7.75-inches that won the NE10 Championship for the event earlier this month. Vercollone is seeded 12th in the 800-meter run and is scheduled to run in the third of three preliminary heats from which the top two finishers, plus the next two fastest times overall, will qualify for Saturday night's final at 8:05 p.m. (EDT).
Vercollone looks to claim his first individual All-America award in the 800m (PHOTO BY Bob Blanchard)
Ward is making her NCAA Championships debut after provisionally qualifying for the first time during the 2018-19 indoor season with her indoor school-record height of 5-feet, 5.75-inches at the Branwen Smith-King Invitational at Tufts University in January. It marks the second-straight year Stonehill has sent a women's field athlete to the NCAA Outdoor Championship after Alison Tobin, '18 earned All-America honors with her 11th place finish in the pole vault (12-feet, 9-inches) last spring.
In addition to her NE10 Championship for the high jump this spring, Ward earned All-New England honors for the third time in her career with a third place finish (5-07.25) two weeks ago in New Haven, Connecticut. She is now a six-time USTFCCCA All-East Region performer after collecting the honors for the outdoor high jump for the third-straight year this spring. Ward also won the high jump at the Holy Cross Invitational (5-06.00) on April 20 and the UMass Lowell Invitational (5-05.00) on March 30, to go with a pair of second place finishes.
Vercollone punched his ticket to Kingsville by blistering the school-record with his second place finish at the New England Championships two weeks ago in 1:50.28. He seeks his first individual All-America award after being a part of Stonehill's 4000-meter distance medley relay, along with Taxter, at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships. Vercollone will be attempting to improve upon his 17th place finish (1:58.56) in the 800-meter run at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March as he and Taxter mark the first Skyhawk men to compete at the NCAA Outdoor Championships since Xavier Dixon, '14 earned All-America honors with an eighth place finish in the 110-meter high hurdles (14.35-seconds) in 2014.
In addition to his All-New England performance in New Haven, Connecticut, two weeks ago, Vercollone was also a member of the Stonehill 4x800-meter relay that finished fifth (7:45.82) to earn a second All-New England award for the weekend. He joined Taxter on Stonehill's NE10 champion 4x800 relay the week before and he also collected All-NE10 honors for the 800-meters with a second-place finish in 1:52.48. Vercollone won the 800-meters at the Skyhawk Invitational (1:53.73) on April 27 and is now a seven-time USTFCCCA All-East Region honoree after his second outdoor 800-meter award this spring.
Vercollone is also a three-sport athlete at Stonehill, having been a four-year member of the men's soccer program. He appeared in 49 matches over his career as a back and midfielder, with nine starts, totaling four goals and three assists.
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