June 12, 2024

PU Track Athletes Gained Valuable Experience, Taking on the Best at NCAA Championship Meet

ACTION JACKSON: Princeton University men’s track star Jackson Shorten competes in the steeplechase last week at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore. Sophomore Shorten placed fifth in his preliminary heat on Wednesday to qualify for the final. Two days later, he took 10th in the final, earning second-team All-American honors. Seven other Tiger athletics competed in the NCAA meet including Casey Helm in the men’s discus, Nicholas Bendtsen in the men’s 5,000 meters, Siniru Iheoma the women’s discus, Shea Greene in the women’s javelin, Alexandra Kelly in the women’s long jump, Georgina Scoot in the women’s triple jump, and Tessa Mudd in the women’s pole vault. (Photo provided by Princeton Athletics)

By Bill Alden

As the crème de la crème of the college track world converged last week at the mecca of the sport in the U.S., Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., for the NCAA Championships, the Princeton University squad had eight athletes make the stellar field.

For sophomore star steeplechaser Jackson Shorter, earning a trip to Hayward was the culmination of a superb spring.

“As I look forward to the coming week, I feel an immense sense of gratitude,” said Shorten as quoted on the Princeton sports website. “I am so thankful for the way that I have continued to progress this season, my coach, and my incredible teammates. I would not be where I am today without such an incredible support system. Ahead is an incredible opportunity and I want to make the most of it.”

Shorten was aiming high in his appearance on the national stage.

“I am going to take it one step at a time, but my goals are to make the final and place well in the final,” added Shorten. “I believe that if I am in the final, I can be one of the athletes fighting for a spot as first team All-American.”

Stepping up, Shorten competed well in heat two last Wednesday evening, running smoothly as he stayed in contact with the front pack. Down the stretch, Shorten picked up speed to take fifth in 8:31.68 and book his spot in the final. On Friday, Shorten improved his time to 8:29.24 in the final, placing 10th and earning second-team All-American honors.

Two other members of the Tiger men’s team tested their skills in Eugene last week as sophomore Casey Helm competed in the discus and junior Nicholas Bendtsen ran in the 5,000 meters.

Helm took 12th in the discus with a best throw of 189’3 as he also earned second-team All-American honors.

While Helm had hoped to be in the top eight, he was relishing the chance to see where he stacked up in a field of top throwers.

“I’ve never competed in Eugene, so I’m really looking forward to it,” said Helm. “I’m also just excited to compete against the best.

Bendtsen, for his part, concluded the competition for the men on Friday night, taking 24th in the 5,000 in a time of 14:16.96.

As for the Tiger women, junior throwing star Siniru Iheoma was happy to extend her season in Eugene by competing in the discus.

“I feel ecstatic and just lucky to still be practicing with the team,” said Iheoma in comments on the Princeton sports website. “I wasn’t sure if I was gonna be able to stay here with everyone for this long, but it feels so good. I didn’t realize how badly I didn’t want to go home yet. The group we are bringing to nationals outside of me is all underclassmen. This just makes me so excited for next week and for what is to come in the future.”

As Iheoma looked ahead to the competition, she was aiming to rise to the occasion.

“My goal is to compete,” added Iheoma. “I usually do my best competing when I am under pressure. I feel I’m a great competitor and my goal is to make it to the finals and become first team All-American. I also want to enjoy the opportunity to be in the atmosphere of the top collegiate athletes. It’s gonna be amazing.”

Iheoma competed hard, ending up placing 10th with a best throw of 183’5, earning second-team All-American honors.

Sophomore Shea Greene took part in the javelin and was fired up to be at the meet with Iheoma.

“I am hoping that Siniru and I can continue building off each other and bringing home big marks for the Princeton throws group,” said Greene.

Greene did the throws group proud, taking 16th with a best throw of 169’2 to earn second-team All-American status.

A pair of Tiger jumping stars also qualified for the meet with sophomores Alexandra Kelly making it in the long jump and Georgina Scoot competing in the triple jump.

Kelly had a rough night on Thursday as each one of her three attempts were marked as fouls, leaving her with no placing.

Scoot fared better in action on Saturday, placing 20th in the triple jump with a mark of 41’10.5 to earn honorable mention All-American recognition.

While Scoot had hoped to place higher, making it all the way to Eugene was a major achievement for her.

“The opportunity to not only have made nationals but to make it with my teammates and best friends is such an amazing opportunity,” said Scoot as quoted on the Princeton sports website. “Last year I did not even make regionals so I am so incredibly grateful this year to have reached the NCAA finals.”

Sophomore pole vaulter Tessa Mudd was also grateful to be at the NCAA meet. She ended up placing with a top vault of 13’7.25 to take 20th, earning honorable mention All-American status.
“While I certainly have hopes for my performance, I think my main aim is simply to have fun and compete to the best of my ability,” said Mudd. “If I am able to do so, I know I will be happy with the outcome of the competition.”

While the eight Tiger athletes may be coming home from Eugene a bit disappointed with the outcomes of their events, the experience they gained going against the best should serve them well as each one is slated to return next year.