Lady Buffs claim NCAA Division II national championship; Buffs finish second overall

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The West Texas A&M women’s track and field team won the 2022 NCAA Division II national championship on Saturday in Allendale, Mich. [Trevor Fleeman/ Press Pass Sports]
It was a historic three days for the West Texas A&M track and field teams competing at the NCAA Division II Outdoor National Track and Field Championships in Allendale, Mich.

The Lady Buffs put together an amazing three-day performance capped off by a tremendous Saturday to claim the programs second Division II national title in the past four years racking up a school-record 77 points with 15 All-Americans and four national champions.

“I’m so proud of this women’s team,” WT head track and field coach Matt Stewart said. “They competed like champions all weekend and weren’t going to be denied of winning it all.”

Senior Zada Swoopes ended her storied career in the maroon and white highlighting the weekend for the Lady Buffs. Swoopes defended her shot put and discus titles from a year ago and placed fourth in the hammer throw.

Swoopes opened the national meet on Thursday breaking her own school-record in the hammer throw with a 191-feet-5 inches. That was good enough to earn points and a fourth-place finish. On Friday, Swoopes continued to dominate by earning her second straight discus national championship by breaking her own school-record once again with a launch of 186-feet-6 inches. Swoopes throw was the third best ever at the national meet.

However, Swoopes was far from done. The Whitewright graduate came back Saturday and for a third straight year won the shot put national title with a toss of 54-feet-9 1/2 inches. In total, Swoopes ends her illustrious career at WT as the best thrower in program history with five shot put national championships, two of those during the indoor season, and two discus national titles.

“Zada has led the team all year,” Stewart said. “Her performance over the weekend was outstanding, but not surprising. Scoring 25 points for the team is unreal. I can’t say enough about how she helped us. She’s the best thrower in Division II history and one of the best competitors I’ve ever seen.”

The Lady Buffs had two other athletes reach the gold medal stand. Sensational sprinter Leah Belfield became the first Lady Buff to win the 200 meter dash in program history blazing a school-record time of 23.30. Belfield also earned a silver in the 100 meter dash with an 11.80.

Eleonora Curtabbi also found the gold medal stand in the 3,000-meter steeple chase. Curtabbi kept a steady pace in front of the pack to break her own school-record clocking a 10:07.07. Like Belfield, Curtabbi becomes the first Lady Buff to win a national title in this event.

The WT men’s team had a strong showing with a second-place overall finish totaling a program-best 61 points.

The Buffs finished with 15 All-Americans and a record-setting national championship 400 meter relay team.

The foursome of Sifiso Miya, Jeremiah Lauzon, Dezmond Aryee, and the prolific Benjamin Azamati, showed off incredible speed blazing a time of 39.27 to set a school-record, while becoming the first sprint relay team from WT to win gold in this event.

The 39.27 is now third best in Division national meet history.

Azamati wasn’t done as the Olympian sprinter took second overall in the 200 meter dash with a time of 20.26.

Amarillo High graduate Butare Rugenerwa continues to shine. Rugenerwa earned All-American honors running a time of 1:51.02 in the 800 meter run to grab a silver medal.

“This was an incredible season,” Stewart said. “I’m just so proud and thankful to my coaching staff and the work they put in. I’m so proud of these teams we have here at WT. This was an awesome weekend, and I’ll never forget it.”

 

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