For the second time in the span of three months, juniors Carly Muscaro (Ashland, Mass.)and John Braga (North Reading, Mass.) of the Merrimack College track & field teams will represent the Warriors at the national level, as the duo both were selected to compete in the 2016 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships, hosted by the University of Tampa and IMG Academy, from May 26-28 in Bradenton, Florida.
The selections are repeat ventures for both student-athletes, each of whom was named All-Americans at Indoor Nationals back in March. In its sixth season as a varsity program, Merrimack has now sent at least one individual to an NCAA Championships event in each of the last six seasons (indoor and outdoor being considered separate seasons) dating back to the 2013-14 indoor campaign.
Muscaro, of course, became the first individual student-athlete among any varsity sport in school history to win a national championship at the NCAA Indoor Championships and will be looking to defend her 400-meter title in the outdoor circuit. She will also, however, be running the 200-meter dash for the first time at the national championships with hopes of taking home not one, but two trophies.
Braga, meanwhile, will look to improve on his sixth-place Heptathlon performance at Indoor Nationals back in March – which marked the first time a male student-athlete had qualified for the national championships in school history. This time around, the North Reading, Massachusetts, native will be running in one of the outdoor season’s marquee events, the Decathlon.
The two will head down to the Sunshine State from Thursday, May 26, through Saturday, May 28, to compete against the top Division II student-athletes from across the nation.
On Thursday (May 26), Braga will open up the outdoor championships in the first event of the three-day meet, competing in the first five events of Decathlon. Later that evening, Muscaro will compete in the 400m preliminaries and look to qualify for the finals of her marquee event for the fifth straight season.
The next day (May 27) will see Braga round out his championship schedule with the final five Decathlon events in the morning before Muscaro competes in the 200m dash preliminaries later that night.
Finally, on Saturday (May 28) and depending on her results in the preliminary races, Muscaro will have a chance to race for two national titles in a 90-minute span, first with the 400m finals before the 200m finals.
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.