Freshman Joanna Heath capped off a stellar first indoor track campaign by tying for 12th place at the NCAA Division III championship meet in Lincoln, Neb. on Saturday March 22.
“It was the best high jump competition I’ve ever seen in Division III,” head coach Dave Prevosti said of Heath’s event, which was won in a jump-off by senior Ashlee Ward of Misericordia University with a height of 1.76 meters.
“[Heath] made the first two heights cleanly, so she was up there with the best of them as a freshman,” Prevosti said.
After clearing 1.55 and 1.60 meters on her first try, Heath cleared 1.65 on her third try. At the next height, 1.69 meters, Prevosti said that on the first attempt, while Heath’s body was clear with little trouble, a trailing elbow managed to dislodge the bar and cause the jump to fail. After the next two attempts produced similar results, Heath had to settle for 12th place, although Prevosti said that “you can’t be disappointed” by her success this season.
“She’s PR’ed so much, she won the conference championship as a freshman [and] she’s gotten this exposure, again as a freshman,” Prevosti said. “I honestly think she has it in her to win a national championship before she is done here, hopefully as early as this outdoor season.”
The depth of the field at the national meet was illustrated by the fact that 15 out of 16 competitors passed 1.65 on the day, a mark that Prevosti said “wins most conference championships in the country.” Had Heath cleared the height on her first attempt or gone higher, she would have attained all-American status.
Even though Heath did not win, Prevosti thinks that competing in the championship meet solidified Heath’s understanding that competing in these national competitions was an expectation.
“She’s as mature of a student-athlete in general that I have encountered. She’s equal to any challenge … She has the talent to follow through on that expectation,” Prevosti said.
As for the indoor season as a whole, Prevosti believes that even though neither the men nor the women took home a conference championship, it was one of the best seasons the teams had.
“[There are] certainly some events that we need to shore up, for sure, but we’re very competitive and we competed well when it mattered,” Prevosti said. He added that many SUNYAC rivals such as Buffalo State College, SUNY Cortland and SUNY Oneonta – schools that Geneseo competes against regularly – were well represented at the national meet, something that can only reflect well on the Knights’ own track and field stature.
“It’s a heck of a conference to be a part of, and I think we contribute to it well,” Prevosti said.