Six OU Entries Accepted to NCAA Indoor Championships

Patrick Dunn
By Patrick Dunn
Communications Assistant

NORMAN – The participants in the upcoming NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships were announced late Tuesday. Six OU entries were accepted to the championships, Jess Woodard (shot put), Vernon Turner (high jump), Ama Pipi (400-meter dash), Papay Glaywulu (triple jump), Ashley Bryant (weight throw), and the women's 4x400 relay team of Ama Pipi, Mia Mukes, Evette Blanks, and Medinah Spencer. The six Sooners' entries ranked among the top 16 in the country to earn a ticket to College Station. The meet, hosted by Texas A&M at Gilliam Indoor Track, opens at noon Friday, March 9, with the final event scheduled to start Saturday, March 10, at 6:45 p.m. CT.

Three of these Sooners (Woodard, Pipi, Bryant) have already added a postseason title to their season résumés with Big 12 titles last weekend at the Big 12 Indoor Championship. Qualifying for the NCAA Division I indoor meet is based on the top 16 marks and the conference meet helps only if a better mark is earned.

Woodard’s qualifying mark of 57-8.25 was posted at the Tyson Invitational on Feb. 10. It ranks as the seventh best heading into the meet. Turner, who will take a high jump mark of 7-7.75 into the NCAA indoor meet, recorded the program record mark also at the Tyson Invitational. Turner is tied for first in the country heading into the meet, coming off a second-place finish at the Big 12 Indoor. Pipi’s qualifying time of 52.81 in the 400-meter dash ranks 13th heading into the meet. Pipi recorded that personal best this past weekend at the Big 12 indoor meet, taking second place in the event but taking home the conference title in the 200-meter dash. Glaywulu qualifies for the meet after posting a jump of 52-6.50 at the Big 12 Indoor Championship, a mark good for 16th on the NCAA Indoor qualifying list. Bryant also got her qualifying mark of 69-11.00 at the Big 12 Indoor Championship, earning the conference title in the women’s weight throw. The PR mark for the senior is tied for 15th on the NCAA indoor qualifying list. The OU women's 4x400m relay team of Ama Pipi, Mia Mukes, Evette Blanks, and Medinah Spencer posted a program-record time of 3:34.05 at the Tyson Invitational to qualify as the 15 seed at the NCAA Indoor and compete in the fourth heat of the event. 

For Woodard, this will be her sixth consecutive NCAA trip as she has qualified for the indoor and outdoor meets each of the past two years and for the outdoor meet in 2015 as well. The Marlton, N.J., senior finished fifth in the indoor shot and eighth in the outdoor shot in 2017, earning first-team All-America honors in both.

She has won five events in 2018 – Leonard Hilton Memorial Invitational, the Texas Tech Classic, the J.D. Martin Invite, the Tyson Invitational, and the Big 12 Indoor Championship. Her career best entering the season was a 57-7 mark and she has improved that three times this season, currently sitting at 57-8.25, her NCAA qualifying mark. She has thrown 53-8.50-plus in all six competitions in 2018. She will open the competition for the Sooners when the women’s shot put begins at 5:15 p.m. Friday at the NCAA Indoor Championships.

Turner, a freshman from Yukon, Okla., will be making the first trip of his career to the NCAA Indoor. He finished second in the high jump at the Big 12 Indoor last weekend after claiming a pair of wins this season, in the high jump at the Tyson Invite and long jump at the J.D Martin. The freshman’s top mark of 7-7.75 is the best indoor performance in collegiate history for a freshman, per the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). Turner’s jump also marks a new program record, one he has broken twice already this indoor season, and ties for the best collegiate high jump this season. Turner will represent OU in the men’s high jump final on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Pipi, from London, England, has had an exceptional senior season. She recently won a conference title in the women’s 200-meter dash, repeating in the event after claiming the title in 2017. In addition to winning the 200 title, Pipi finished second in the 400-meter dash with a PR time of 52.81. The senior has two other individual wins this season to go with her conference crown, winning the 400 title at the Vanderbilt Invite and the 200 title at the Texas Tech Classic.

This will mark her second consecutive season to compete at the NCAA Indoor. The semifinal of her event will be at 6:40 p.m. Friday and the final will be at 5 p.m. Saturday. Eight runners will advance to the final.

Glaywulu has had a successful freshman year, with four top-five finishes in five meets in the triple jump and long jump, which includes his recent fifth-place finish in the triple jump at the Big 12 Indoor Championship. He recorded a personal best jump of 52-6.50 at the Big 12 Indoor that stands as 16th on the NCAA Indoor qualifying list. He posted 50-0-plus jumps in all four of his competitions. He did not compete in the triple jump in his first meet of the year, where he took fifth in the long jump at the Leonard Hilton Memorial Invitational. Glaywulu will represent the Sooners in the triple jump Saturday at the NCAA Indoor Championships at 5 p.m.   

Bryant, a redshirt senior from Newcastle, Okla., has excelled in her senior campaign, with four victories in 2018 – the Texas Tech Classic, J.D. Martin Invitational, Tyson Invitational, and the Big 12 Indoor. She won her first conference title this past weekend at the Big 12 Indoor Championship in the weight throw with a personal best throw of 69-11.00 that replaced her own mark for first in the OU record books. She will compete in the women’s weight throw final Saturday at the NCAA Indoor Championships at 4:30 p.m.

The OU women's 4x400-meter relay team that features three seniors in Ama Pipi, Mia Mukes, and Medinah Spencer, and one freshman, Evette Blanks, have one win as a team this season at the Texas Tech Classic to go with two other top-three finishes. They posted their NCAA qualifying mark of 3:34.05 at the Tyson Invite on Feb. 10, a time that is first in Sooners history in the event. Sabrina Mason will also serve as the alternate for the team. 

“Indoor nationals is a unique meet, unlike outdoors where you qualify at the region site. Indoors is purely off your best mark. In theory, someone could have a really good season but they never hit that one mark to qualify for indoor nationals, so it can be a tough meet because only 16 qualify per event." says head coach Jim VanHootegem.  "The people that made it are in pretty elite company, nationally.” 

"On the women's side, we have a group of veterans in Jess and Ama. Ashley has made the outdoor national meet before, so they've been there and know what it's about. I think they're in a good position to perform,” VanHootegem added. "With Vernon and Papay, it's exciting to have two freshmen to come in right away and establish that our men's jumps are a group of the future. They can come in and let it loose and have fun at a great track meet. We're looking forward to it."

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