ALLENDALE, MI/NEWPORT NEWS, VA. — The University of Mount Olive track & field teams had a successful showing this past weekend at the Grand Valley State Holiday Open and the Christopher Newport University Holiday Open, picking up two provisional qualifications and one automatic qualifier to the NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field National Championship.


Leah Hanle in her first meet of the year secured her third consecutive trip to the NCAA DII National Championship with an NCAA automatic qualifying mark in the 5000m with a time of 16:23.52m. Hanle beat the automatic mark by 10 seconds finishing second in the race behind a Division I runner from Eastern Michigan. The junior beat the Division II cross country national champion from a week ago who was also competing in the race.

Picking up her second NCAA provisional qualifying mark of the season, Malak Kafi broke the school record in the 60m hurdles. The junior’s time of 8.76 gave her a 7th place finish in the event.

Celine Ritter also came within seconds of an NCAA provo, 3.94 seconds to be exact, in the 3000m. Ritter bested her personal time by 18 seconds as she placed 6th in the race.


The men’s 4x400m relay team of Richard Fisher, Johnny Middlebrooks, Arne Leppelsack, Tedric Shannon came within .40 of an NCAA automatic berth to the national championship with their time of 3:12.60, securing a very high NCAA provisional qual. The quartet broke the UMO school record in route to winning the event.

Tai Smith ran a provisional qualifying time of 14:24.16 in the men’s 5000m at the GSVU Holiday Open. He finished the event 11th while setting a new UMO record beating Adam Craig’s time of 14:36.04 set during the 2017-18 season. Smith finished ahead of all the Queens runners who beat him last week and finished right behind the runner who placed 9th at the NCAA DII Cross Country Championships. Smith’s eleventh-place finish ranks him first in the conference in the 5000m run.


The Trojans’ men’s and women’s track and field teams will compete again following the holiday break as they return to action January 19-20 when the teams compete at the Wake Forest Invitational in Winston-Salem, N.C.