About nine Nigerian athletes will be in action when the NCAA Division I Championships get underway in Eugene from June 6 to 9, following the conclusion of the DI NCAA East Preliminaries and West Preliminaries held in Tampa, Florida, and Sacramento, California, respectively from May 24 to 26.

The Top 12 athletes in each event from either region qualified for the championships, making a total of 24 athletes in each event.

Topping the list of Nigerian qualifiers is Divine Oduduru, a sophomore at Texas Tech University, who qualified for the men’s 100m, 200m and 4x100m.

At the end of the West Preliminary Round, Oduduru ranked 8th in the 100m, and is 20th overall with his time of 10.33s, with Jaylen Bacon of Arkansas State ranked No.1 (9.97s).

However, Oduduru tops the overall list of qualifiers in the 200m with his time of 20.21s, with North Carolina A&T’s Rodney Rowe (20.26s) and South Carolina’s Ncincilili Titi (20.27s) following. Texas Tech’s men’s 4x100m team is ranked 14th overall.

Another Nigerian athlete competing in the men’s 200m is Charles Okeze who is No.21 on the list with his time of 20.77s.

South Carolina’s Josh Awotunde had the best mark overall in the men’s Shot put, having dominated the event with a throw of 20.54m. He will be joined by Virginia’s Oghenakpobo Efekoro (19.70m), though Isaac Odugbesan missed qualification after finishing 17th (18.35m) in the East Preliminary Round.

Kunle Fasasi missed a place in the individual 400m having clocked a Season’s Best (SB) of 45.68s in the preliminary round, but finished 14th in the quarterfinal (46.01s).

However, he qualified for the 4x400m relay with teammates Chantz Sawyers, Benjamin Lobo Vedel and Grant Holloway, with the Florida team being ranked 15th overall (3:06.61).

Minnesota senior Emerald Egwim will compete in the women’s 400m and 4x400m after booking her place in the individual event where she placed 8th in the West Preliminary Round, and 20th overall (52.42s). The Minnesota 4x400m women’s team occupy 11th position overall with their time of 3:32.25.

Middle Tennessee State University’s (MTSU) Abike Egbeniyi will compete in the women’s 800m after placing 4th in the East Preliminaries (2:03.50), and 10th overall.

Oral Roberts University (ORU) sophomore Mercy Abire made the cut in the women’s Long Jump after finishing 4th in the West Preliminaries, and 13th overall with her leap of 6.21m.

Finally, Kelechi Nwanaga will be making her maiden appearance at the NCAA Championships where she will be representing University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) after ranking 13th overall in the women’s Javelin throw with her mark of 51.18m.

Yemi Galadima is a Senior Sportswriter and Editor at Making of Champions. She has a bias for Athletics and was previously a Sports Reporter at the National Mirror, where she hosted a weekly column ‘On the Track with Yemi Olus’ for over two years. A self-acclaimed ‘athletics junkie’, she has covered national and international events live, such as the African Athletics Championships, African Games and IAAF World Championships. She also freelances for World Athletics.


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