Harding sends five women to Nationals

SEARCY — Harding women’s track and field had five individuals selected Tuesday to participate in the 2022 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships, hosted May 26-28 at Grand Valley State University Track and Field Stadium in Allendale, Michigan.

It is the second straight year Harding has sent five women to the outdoor national meet. The Lady Bisons had never sent more than four to any other national competition.

The five qualifiers include freshman Kiera Blankinship in the high jump, senior Anne-Noelle Clerima in the 400-meter hurdles, junior Cooper Monn in the discus, senior Kinga Szarzynska in the 800 meters and sophomore Sierra White in the pole vault.

Blankinship, a freshman from Chickasha, Oklahoma, qualified 20th in the high jump. She had a season-best clearance of 1.71 meters or 5 feet, 7.25 inches at the Joey Haines Invitational at Southeast Missouri State. Blankinship joins Penny Mayberry (1994) and Kristen Celsor (2013) as the only Lady Bisons to qualify for outdoor nationals in the high jump. She could become Harding’s first All-American in the event. 

Clerima, a senior from France, qualified 14th in the 400-meter hurdles with a season-best time of 1:00.11 at the Texas Relays. She will be making her second appearance at outdoor nationals. In 2021, Clerima placed 13th in 400 hurdles at outdoor nationals. She is the only Harding female ever to qualify for nationals in the 400 hurdles.

Monn, a junior from Eustis, Florida, qualified 19th in the discus with a season-best mark of 47.25 meters or 155 feet at the WT Last Chance Meet. It is her first qualification for outdoor nationals and joins Liz Fouts (2021) as the only two Lady Bisons to qualify in the discus. Monn has a chance to become Harding’s first All-American in the event.

Szarzynska, a senior from Poland, becomes the third Lady Bison to qualify for outdoor nationals three times, joining Gosia Drazkowska (2005-06, 2008) and Ewa Zaborowska (2012-14). She qualified 22nd in the 800 meters with a season-best time of 2:09.90 at the Drake Relays. Szarzynska played 17th in the 800 at 2018 outdoor nationals and earned Second Team All-America honors with an 11th-place finish in 2021. She has also finished 18th twice in the 800 at indoor nationals.

White, a sophomore from Aledo, Texas, is making her second appearance at outdoor nationals. She qualified eighth with a season-best clearance of 4.10 meters or 13 feet, 5.25 inches at the Harding Bison Open. White earned First Team All-America with a seventh-place finish at outdoor nationals in 2021. White and Tiffany Chambers (2013) are the only Lady Bisons to qualify for outdoor nationals in the pole vault.

Blankinship will compete in the high jump Saturday at 1:05 p.m. Clerima’s 400-meter hurdles prelim is today at 6:55 p.m. with the finals Saturday at 3:20 p.m. Monn’s discus competition is Friday at 4 p.m. Szarzynska’s 800-meter prelim is Friday at 5:15 p.m. with the final Saturday at 2:55 p.m. White competes in the pole vault Saturday at 11:30 a.m.