As one student-athlete looks to defend her national championship in the 400-meter dash while another makes his national debut in the prestigious Decathlon event, juniors Carly Muscaro (Ashland, Mass.)and John Braga (North Reading, Mass.) will represent the Merrimack College men’s and women’s track & field teams at the 2016 NCAA Division II Outdoor National Championships starting on Thursday (May 26) night at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Date: May 26-28, 2016
Competitors: Muscaro (200m Dash // 400m Dash) | Braga (Decathlon)
Location: IMG Academy | Bradenton, Fla.
The three-day outdoor national championship begins on Thursday (May 26), and features 12 events starting at 10:30 a.m. and concluding nearly 12 hours later.
Braga will get the action started for the Warriors, as the Decathlon will kick off the 2016 Division II NCAA Outdoor National Championships tomorrow morning. The prestigious, two-day, 10-event competition will start with the 100-meter dash, the long jump, the shot put, the high jump and the 400-meter dash.
Roughly eight hours later, Muscaro will begin the defense of her national title in the 400-meter dash while pursuing her first-ever championship in the outdoor circuit when she competes in the preliminary round of her marquee event beginning at approximately 6:40 p.m.
The Ashland, Massachusetts, native has advanced to the national finals in the 400-meter dash in four straight national championships – indoor or outdoor – dating back to outdoor nationals in 2014, which was the spring of her freshman season. She finished as the national runner-up in the event at the straight national championships before breaking through with a first-place finish at the 2015-16 DII NCAA Indoor National Championships back in March.
Braga will return to action with the final five Decathlon events on Friday (May 27) morning beginning at 9:30 a.m. The North Reading, Massachusetts, native placed sixth in the Heptathlon during indoor nationals two months ago and became the first-ever male All-American in program history with that performance. Also the only male to qualify for the NCAA Championships in school history, Braga will look to earn All-America accolades during the outdoor campaign depending on his finish at this weekend’s Decathlon.
Meanwhile, Muscaro will look to make even more history when she competes in the 200-meter dash preliminaries at 5:50 p.m. on Friday. This will mark the first time in the four-time All-American’s career that she will run in anything other than the 400-meter dash or the 4×400-meter relay at nationals.
Depending on her finish on Thursday (400m prelims) and Friday (200m prelims), Muscaro will have the opportunity to take home not only one, but two national titles on Saturday. First up, at 6:25 p.m., would be the 400-meter national finals, and the championship race in the 200-meter dash would occur just about 90 minutes later.
Back at outdoor nationals for the third straight season, Muscaro finished the regular season with the fastest Division II time in the 400m dash. She ran the fastest race of her career at the New England Championships last Saturday, winning the title with a blistering time of 51.17 that broke her school record, meet record, and the all-time New England Intercollegiate record. That time also qualified for a chance to run at the Olympic Trials in Oregon in July.
The Ashland, Massachusetts, native also automatically qualified in the 200-meter dash and finished the regular season with the second-fastest time in Division II. That mark – a 23.41-second finish – was set at the 2016 Northeast-10 Conference Outdoor Championships two weekends ago. It trailed only TAMU-Kingsville’s Kaina Martinez’ 23.33-second finish from a race on May 5.
Braga, meanwhile, will look to earn All-America recognition for the second time in 2015-16 after finishing the regular season with the 11th-best Decathlon score in the country. That mark of 6,995 points was also set at the New England Championships last weekend, when he became the first individual in school history to win the Decathlon at New England’s.