Whitaker, Lundkvist, Sanford qualify for NCAAs in the mile

Whitaker, Lundkvist and Sanford (from last weekend's UAA Championships)
Whitaker, Lundkvist and Sanford (from last weekend's UAA Championships)

For the first time in program history, three Brandeis women's track & field runners have qualified to compete in the same event at the NCAA Division III Indoor Championships. Sophomore Kelsey Whitaker (Kingston, Mass./Notre Dame Acad.) and seniors Amelia Lundkvist (So. Portland, Maine/Cheverus) and Vicki Sanford (LaGrangeville, N.Y./Arlington) all qualified to compete in the mile, and will run at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, Neb., this weekend.

Click here for the NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships Home Page.

Whitaker enters with the fifth-fastest time in the country. She finished first at the Tufts Last Chance meet on Thursday with a time of 4:57.15. It was the first time in Whitaker's career that she had run a sub-five minute mile. For NCAA purposes, her time is converted to a faster time of 4:54.24 – Tufts has a flat track, which is slightly more difficult to complete, while the NCAA Championships will be run on a banked track.

Lundkvist timed in at 4:59.38 at Tufts on Thursday, which converted to 4:56.45. She will head to nationals as the No. 9 seed. Lundkvist was an All-American in cross country this fall, but has competed in just three indoor meets this season due to injury.

Sanford's time of 5:00.44 was set at Tufts on January 31st. She is seeded 17th heading into the weekend and earned the final qualifying spot at the meet by 0.20 seconds.

Whitaker, Lundkvist and Sanford are the first Brandeis runners to qualify for the NCAA Championships in the mile since Grayce Selig '11 finished as the runner up in 2011. It is the first time ever that the women's track team has had three competitors in the same field at NCAAs. Only three other schools in the country will have three competitors in the same event, and all three are in field competitions. It is the first time a UAA school has pulled off the feat since the University of Chicago had three competitors in the 20-pound weight throw in 2010.

Junior Mohamed Sidique (Harlem, N.Y./St. Raymond H.S. for Boys) was (literally) inches away from qualifying. Sidique jumped 14.28 meters (46.85 feet) in the triple jump at the ECAC Championships on Friday, a new career best. That is the 18th-longest jump in Division III this year, but only the top 15 men qualify for nationals.

Whitaker was just seconds away for qualifying for NCAAs in a second event; she is ranked 35th in the country in the 800 meter. Her time of 2:14.91 was less than a second behind the final two qualifiers.

The Judges are led by interim coach Sinead Delahunty-Evans, who took over the program in December.