The Lincoln University men's track team enters the 2006 NCAA Division III Championships aiming to repeat as national champions for the first time since 2000 when competition begins Thursday May 25 at Benedictine College in Lislie, Illinois.
In the three-day event that concludes on Saturday May 27, Lincoln will be well represented by its men's and women's track teams with 15 student-athletes (eight men, seven women) competing. The women's team will be seeking its first title since 2000. The Lincoln men have repeated as national champions two times in its storied history (1995 and 1996; 1999 and 2000).
The participating male athletes are junior Bobby Young (Providence, RI/Mt. Pleasant), freshman Jermaine Morris (Vineland, NJ/Vineland), junior Lance Wigfall (East Orange, NJ/East Orange), senior John Fudge (Philadelphia/Simon Gratz), senior Jeff Jasmin (Linden, NJ/Linden), junior Keko Goldman (Pleasantville, NJ/Pleasantville), freshman Randy Dawkins (Bronx, NY/Herbert Lehman) and junior Reggie Hopkins (New Castle, Del./Howard).
Participating female athletes are sophomore Shanda Jackson (East Orange, NJ/East Orange), junior Ashley Douglas (Crisfield, MD/Crisfield), junior Ashley Parker (Pleasantville, NJ/Pleasantville), junior Shari Richardson (Brooklyn, NY/Samuel Tilden), freshman Jordean Matthews (Pleasantville, NJ/Pleasantville), sophomore Yolana Sabb (East Orange NJ, East Orange Campus) and sophomore Jamanah Freeman (Pleasantville, NJ/Pleasantville).
At last year's meet, the Lincoln men used a dramatic rally on the final day of the meet to win its seventh national championship in school history. The national title was the 16th overall (indoor and outdoor combined) for longtime Lincoln track coach Cyrus Jones. Lincoln, which did not have a single point entering the final day of competition last year, used three first place finishes to score 68 points to wrestle the crown from Wisconsin-LaCrosse, who had won the previous four titles. Eight of Lincoln's nine men's runners scored at least one point last year. The men return five members from last year's title squad: Young, Wigfall, Fudge, Jasmin and Hopkins.
"When you look at the total picture, our team looks as well as it did last year," Jones said. "We could be in the top three and if we're in the top three then we can win. We're going (to nationals) to defend our championship to the best of our ability."
Young is the reigning NCAA Division III 400-meter dash champion. In addition to finishing second in the 200 and helping the Lions' 4 x 100-meter relay team finish second, Young was named the Most Outstanding Male Athlete of the meet. Young also earned National Track Athlete of the Year by the United States Track and Field Cross-Country Coaches Association in March. Young will participate in the 200 and 400 and will run on the Lions' 4 x 100 and 4 x 400-meter relay teams.
The Lions' 4 x 400-meter relay team of Young, Wigfall, Jasmin and Dawkins enters the national championship meet with the two fastest times this spring in Division III (3 minutes, 9.13 seconds and 3:09.63). Jasmin has the second fastest time in the 400-meter hurdles (52.58). Lincoln has enjoyed a solid outdoor season. The Lions have performed their best during the big meets. At the Penn Relays, Lincoln's 4 x 100-meter relay team placed second in the IC4A/ECAC race. The Lions' 4 x 400-meter relay team finished second at the IC4A meet at Princeton two weeks ago. Lincoln finished second in last weekend's ECAC Championships at Springfield College.
Hopkins has won two consecutive long jump competitions: University of Delaware Invitational on May 6 and the ECAC Championships on May 18.
With Jackson leading a talented group running its best, the Lady Lions have the potential to dethrone reigning champion Wartburg College. Jackson, the two-time reigning indoor 55-meter dash champion, leads Lincoln. Jackson is poised to help the women seek its first national title since 2000. Jackson, who won the 100-meter dash at last weekend's ECAC Championships, has the second fastest time in Division III in the 100 (11.94). Jackson edged SUNY-Oneonta's Musa Jackson-Buckner, the athlete with the nation's fastest qualifying time, to win the 100-meter dash at the ECAC Championships last weekend. Jackson was named as the Mid-East Region Track and Field Athlete of the Year. Jackson is also competing in the 200-meter dash.
Like Jackson, Parker has also qualified in the 100 and 200-meter dashes. The Lady Lions, who finished second as a team at last weekend's ECAC Championships, qualified three runners in the 400-meter dash: Matthews, Richardson and Sabb. Jackson, Sabb, Douglas and Richardson are the only members of the Lady Lions who qualified for nationals last year. However, none of them advanced past the qualifying heats and into the final round.
The Lady Lions 4 x 100-meter relay team of Jackson, Sabb, Parker and Douglas have improved as the season has progressed and they enter the meet with the fourth fastest time (47.59 seconds) among Division III schools this spring. The 4 x 400-meter relay team of Richardson, Matthews, Freeman and Parker enter the meet with the sixth fastest time (3:50.89) among Division III schools in this event.
"I am thinking that our women this year have a good shot of making it into the top five," Jones said. "With Shanda and Shari running at their peak right now we have an opportunity to become something. Our women our strong as we've been in the last six years."
Lincoln could get a boost from alum Rhondale Jones, a 16-time All-American who will be honored this week prior to the beginning of the meet for being selected to NCAA Division III Women's Track and Field 25th anniversary team. Jones finished her collegiate career with nine NCAA Division III women's outdoor track and field individual titles. She won titles in the 100-meter dash (1999, 00, 01), 100-meter hurdles (1999, 00, 01), and the 200-meter dash (1999, 00, 01). Jones currently holds the NCAA championship record for the 200-meter dash with a time of 23.72 seconds, which she set in 1999. Jones helped the Lady Lions capture the 1999 and 2000 NCAA Division III national championship.
A total of 71 teams scored at least one point in the 2005 NCAA Division III Men's Track and Field championship and 76 teams accomplished the same feat in the women's championship. The field for each championship, men's and women's includes approximately 200 athletes.