Wolter finishes 12th of 16 competitors in NCAA heptathlon championship


Image via Matt Hawley, Pitt Athletics

Pitt’s Felix Wolter jumps over hurdles in the ACC Indoor Championships at Virginia Tech on Feb. 26.

By Brian Sherry, Staff Writer

At the final college track and field competition of the indoor season, just one Pitt Panther — redshirt senior Felix Wolter — sported the blue and gold. Against the best college athletes the country has to offer, the Pitt graduate student finished 12th out of 16 competitors in last weekend’s heptathlon, an event which featured seven individual competitions.

The NCAA held the indoor track and field championships in Birmingham, Alabama and, alongside athletes from across the country, Wolter competed in the heptathlon. Wolter qualified for the indoor championships by winning the ACC indoor championships last week. This victory is Wolter’s second straight ACC championship, and the championship was his second nationals appearance.

Wolter began competition Friday by finishing 10th in the 60-meter dash. He then soared to a 7.28 meter jump and a fifth-place finish in the long jump event, his best finish of any event in the heptathlon. But Wolter trailed sophomore Leo Neugebauer of Texas, who posted a dominant 7.75 meter jump to win the event.

He then threw in the shot put event, finishing 14th in the field. Wolter concluded Friday’s events by placing 10th in the high jump.

Saturday brought three more events for the Panther graduate student. Wolter fell back into 14th place in the 60-meter hurdle event, but then finished strong, placing seventh and ninth in the pole vault and 1000-meter dash, respectively.

Sophomore Ayden Owens of Arkansas took home the overall gold medal for the event. Owens, a Pittsburgh native, secured a facility record with a score of 6,211. The Razorback sophomore edged out sophomore Kyle Garland of Georgia to claim his first indoor track title.

Texas took home the overall men’s title. The Longhorns racked up 47 points to handily defeat North Carolina A&T and Tennessee, who finished second and third, to capture the team trophy. The win was Texas’s first indoor team title in program history. Florida won the title on the women’s side. The Gators prevented a Texas sweep of the competition by defeating the Longhorns by 12 points to claim the women’s title.

Arkansas women’s team swept the two relay events. The Razorbacks defeated Stanford and Oregon in the distance medley relay, then emerged victorious over Texas in a 4×400 meter showdown. The Longhorns nearly swept both of the relay events on the men’s side. Texas edged out Notre Dame to win the distance medley event, before falling to Texas A&M in the 4×400 meter.

Junior Vernon Turner of Oklahoma took home the facility record, and the championship, in the men’s high jump event with a jump of over 2.32 meters. Junior Corvell Todd of Southern Mississippi fell just short of that mark.

Texas A&M junior Lamara Distin also took home the facility record on the women’s side of the high jump. Distin narrowly defeated Texas junior Tyra Gittens by just 0.03 meters.

Mario Garcia Romo of Ole Miss won the men’s one-mile event in a photo finish. The junior edged out senior Morgan Beadlescomb of Michigan State by just 0.05 seconds. Six runners finished within one second of Romo.

Sophomore Grace Stark of Florida posted a collegiate record in the women’s 60-meter hurdles. Stark crushed the competition, posting a time of 7.78 seconds. This time was good enough to tie the previous record, which was set in 2013.

Senior Trey Cunningham of Florida State also nearly broke the 60-meter hurdle record on the men’s side. Cunningham dominated the competition by posting a 7.38 second performance, just 0.03 seconds short of the collegiate record. The Florida State senior finished 0.25 seconds ahead of the second place finisher.

This meet comes just before the start of the outdoor track season, which will begin Friday.

The Panthers are set to open up the outdoor season in West Virginia at the Stan Romanoski Invitational. Pitt will also compete in Miami at the Hurricane Invitational on Friday.