(Johnson City, Tenn.) Looking to add an exclamation point to the end of an already stellar sophomore campaign, Loyola University New Orleans track & field sophomore Leah Banks headed to the David E. Walker Track at Gentry Field on Thursday afternoon to compete at the 37th Annual NAIA Women’s Indoor Track & Field National Championships held in Johnson City, Tennessee.
A true testament to her ability and athletic versatility, Banks competed in the women’s pentathlon on Thursday – an event that she has never before attempted.
The pentathlon is a grueling venture where participants earn points for their combined finishes in five events: the 60-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump and 800-meter run. Despite being a newcomer to the event, Banks handled the pentathlon like a seasoned vet as she broke three school records en route to collecting 3131 total points to end the day tied for 11th.
Banks started the afternoon by finishing tied for sixth in the 60-meter hurdles in a time of 9.38, missing her own school record by just 0.01.
She followed up that with performance in the hurdles with a leap of 4’8.25” in the high jump to finish that event in 15th and drop to 13th overall (1376 points) heading into the shot put.
It would be in the shot put that the first Loyola women’s track record would fall. Banks’ heave of 29’8” shattered the school’s previous record of 27’2 ¾’ set by Meghan McNamara in 1999. Banks’ toss put her at 12th in the shot put and she remained in 15th place overall 1843 total points.
Banks started the long jump event with two fouls so she would need to mark on her third attempt is she wanted to earn any points. Banks responded with a school-record leap of 17’8.75” to take third in the event and move up to ninth in the overall standings with 2514 points.
Entering the final event of the day, Leah was just four points back of eighth place which was noteworthy since the top eight finishers of the heptathlon earned NAIA All-American status.
The sophomore ended her day with a 12th place finish in the 800 meters to wrap up the NAIA National Championship tied for 11th with 3131 points.
Banks’ 3131 total points set a new school record and left Leah just 18 points away from a NAIA All-American honor.
Chelsea Baker out of Friends University claimed the NAIA National Championship in the pentathlon after tallying an impressive 3698 total in Tennessee.