Down To The Wire: 4x400m Relay Decides Men's 2017 DII Outdoor Title

The 2017 NCAA Division II Outdoor Championships concluded spectacularly today as the men's team battle came right down to the wire and West Texas A&M's women won their first-ever national outdoor title.

Numerous breakout performances and a commanding lead made it clear that the West Texas A&M women were not going to stray far from the championship pace they set on day one, and projections for the men's race initially seemed that way, too.

At the end of day two, Ashland still led the standings with 31 points in the throws alone, but their lack of depth in other disciplines ultimately caught up with them on day three. Although Myles Pringle's win in the 400m (45.77 seconds) and Elijah Talk's shot put bronze (18.47m/60'7") kept Ashland in contention, three other teams began to clean up in the finals of the sprints, jumps and distance events.

By the time the final event rolled around, Ashland was tied with Tiffin for 50 points, followed by Saint Augustine's with 48 and Lincoln (Mo.) with 44. But Ashland and Tiffin didn't qualify 4x400m relay teams, so they sat in the stands and watched two strong sprinting programs face off to decide their fate.

Led by 400m hurdle champion Shawn Rowe and anchored by 400m bronze medalist Khari Herbert Jr., Saint Augustine's not only won the relay in 3:06.96, but also claimed the team title with 58 points. Lincoln followed with 52, and Ashland and Tiffin remained tied with 50, but in third.

Overall, West Texas A&M capped their weekend with 64 points, four national champions, 10 All-Americans and two school records. The Buffs finished 20 points ahead of runner-up Grand Valley State--the widest scoring gap between first and second place at a Division II championship in nine years.

The Buffs' outstanding performers included freshman Fatim Affessi (first in long jump: 6.68m/21'11"), senior Rellie Kaputin (first in triple jump: 13.28m/43'7", second in long jump: 6.53m/21'5.25"); sophomore Norma Cunigan, who dethroned the returning champion in the discus; Lacy Harris (runner-up in pole vault: 4.03m/13'2.25"), and the women's 4x100m relay champions (Kennedy Hudson, Affessi, Jasmine Pitts and Shanice Cameron), who finished in 44.85 seconds. Cameron also ran in the 100m final and took fifth in 11.73 seconds.

Check out the full results and stay tuned for more details to come.

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