The Academy of Art University track contingent at the Indoor National Championships on March 9, 2019. (Rob Garcia / Academy of Art Athletics)

Seven Academy of Art track athletes earn All-American honors at indoor nationals

On the second and final day of the NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field National Championships in Pittsburg, Kansas, seven Academy of Art University athletes snagged All-American honors, led by Nigerian-Canadian star Mobolade Ajomale, who earned his 15th, 16th and 17th career All-American nods.

The reigning champion in the 60m, Ajomale — the fifth man on a Canadian Olympic relay team that was awarded the bronze in Rio after an American disqualification — started the day with a 6.65-second 60m dash, conceding his title to Tiffin’s Jonte Baker (6.62), but his runner-up finish earned him his first All-American nod of the day. Over his four years at Academy of Art, the former Alabama commit has never finished lower than second in the race.

About two hours later, Ajomale not only defended his title in the 200m, but tore off a 20.88 in the finals, serving as the lone finals sprinter below 21.00. With the win, he he became a three-time national champion in the event (each of the past three years) and tied Adams State’s Sydney Gidabuday as the only two NCAA DII men with a record-six individual indoor titles in a career. That earned him his second All-American nod of the day.

Ajomale’s third All-American finish came in the men’s 4x400m. The quartet of Ajomale, Christian Carter, Roshard Williams and Grant Swinton finished second in their heat to St. Augustine’s (3:08.39) and third overall, back of national champion Texas A&M-Commerce’s facility record 3:08.34. The Urban Knights, though, delivered the fastest time in program history with a 3:10.02 for eight more points toward the team total.

As for Academy of Art’s other All-Americans, Darria Mattias set a lifetime-best in the 60m preliminary heats, and with an eighth-place finish in the final with a 7.52 (her second-fastest of the year), she earned her first career All-American nod.

Coming into the triple jump ranked fourth in NCAA Division II, graduate student Camille Jouanno challenged the program record of 41-6.5 (12.66m) set by Vashti Thomas in 2012 with her second attempt, going 41-5.25 (12.63m) before breaking the mark on her third leap with a 41-11.5 (12.79m).

Second out of the prelims, the native of Bordeaux, France remained above 41-4 (12.59m) the rest of the way and went on to extend the record to 42-5.25 (12.93m) with her fifth attempt, earning a national championship. The distance would better her next closest competitor, Cierra Pulliam of Lewis, by more than three inches.

Jouanno — whose hero is Usain Bolt, against whom Ajomale raced in the relay preliminaries in Rio — transferred from the University of Bordeaux before this school year after being named the 2018 French University Champion in the triple jump.

“Camille is a heck of a competitor,” said assistant coach Alik Gipson. “She worked really hard this semester and bought into the process. When you combine those things, you give yourself a chance to compete at the highest level. This national title is a testament to all the hard work she has done since she arrived on campus in January.”

The final individual event of the day, the 3000m, saw Communications & Media Technologies graduate student Victor Moreau — another French import, out of Université Blaise Pascal — run a strong race.

Initially in the middle of the pack behind Adams State’s Gidabuday and eventual champion Elias Gedyon (Adams State), Moreau never fell behind eighth place over the first 1200m, and over the final 900, he began his kick, pulling into fifth with 300m to go. He finished fourth overall with a time of 8:13.45, finishing on the podium for the first time in his ART U career, earning his second career All-American nod after earning second-team honors from the 2018 US Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association in the indoor mile in 2018.

In the women’s 4x400m relay, the team of Latavia Hawkins, Hava Turner, Mia Avila and Ombretta Picciolie Minkue Meye finished 12th with a time of 3:48.12, three seconds out of a spot on the podium.

The final team scores had the Urban Knights tied for fifth overall with Lincoln (Mo.) at 29 points. The national championship trophy went to Ashland (38 points) who barely edged Adams State (37 points). The ART U women’s 11 total points put them 19th overall in the team standings.

After starting its outdoor campaign last weekend, Academy of Art will resume with Sacramento State’s Hornet Invitational and Troy’s Doc Anderson Invitational on Mar. 16-17.

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