Senior Cheickna Traore entered the 2023 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships held at the Birmingham CrossPlex in Alabama qualifying for three events (60m, 200m and 400m) but opted to compete in the 200m and 400m races. In both the 400m and 200m events, Traore was crowned NCAA Champion.
With both wins, he became a five-time NCAA All-American. He won the 200m race with a National Division III Record and NCAA Championship Meet record time of 20.72 seconds. In the 400m race, he posted a time of 46.85 seconds, which is second all-time in NCAA Division III. Both times break his own program records.
In regards to how he felt winning, Traore said, “I feel a great sense of pride when I achieve these things not only for myself but for the school as a whole. There’s a whole other layer to it besides just winning titles for myself when I think of all the people at Ramapo College that I’m also representing.”
Traore was also named the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Metro Region Track Athlete of the Year for the second time in his collegiate career, U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Metro All-Region Team and the Most Outstanding Men’s Track Performer of the NCAA Indoor Championships.
“After the indoor season that I just had, it’s kinda hard to top it, but the one thing I can do is win two more titles at the outdoor track and field championships and be back to back double champ. That would be an impressive feat.”
– Cheickna Traore
Each year, the USTFCCCA honors the Outstanding Performers of the Championships at both the NCAA Division III Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Winners are determined using a formula that adds together team points scored, plus meet records (five additional points), Division III seasonal bests (three additional points) and facility records (one point). Relay points, if applicable, are split equally among the four team members.
Traore totaled 36 points using the above formula. He swept the 200-meter and 400-meter titles (20 points), broke the meet record in the 200 twice (10) and established seasonal bests in both races (six points). Traore also shattered the NCAA Division III record in the 200-meter with his 20.72 winner, even though that did not factor in the award process.
“I felt ecstatic finding out that I was [Most Outstanding Men’s Track Performer of the NCAA Indoor Championships], but some part of me knew that I was deserving of it after winning two championships in one day. I’m super thankful to have been chosen as the best track performer,” Traore said.
Following his outstanding performance at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships, Traore and his teammate Max Dubac returned to the track on Saturday afternoon when they traveled to the University of Miami for the Hurricane Invitational in Coral Gables, Florida to start the outdoor season.
Dubac, who competed in the 400m hurdles in the first meet of the outdoor season, posted a time of 57.64 seconds and finished fourth overall against NCAA Division I and professional athletes.
Traore, who is coming off his historic indoor track season, competed in both the 100m and 200m races in Coral Gables. He broke his own school record in both events.
In the 100m dash, Traore won his heat when he crossed the finish line in 10.46 seconds and placed 19th overall. In the 200m dash, he set the new NCAA Division III outdoor record, winning the event in 20.49 seconds. His mark is currently first across all three NCAA divisions this season. Traore now owns three of the top seven sub-20.80 second marks in NCAA Division III outdoor history.
When asked what his goal for the outdoor season was, Traore responded, “After the indoor season that I just had, it’s kinda hard to top it, but the one thing I can do is win two more titles at the outdoor track and field championships and be back to back double champ. That would be an impressive feat.”
The Roadrunner squad returns to action in the first full outdoor meet of the year on Saturday, March 25 when they travel to the Stockton Invitational hosted by Stockton University at 9:30 a.m.
Featured photo courtesy of Ian Matthew Photography