WIU track athlete qualifies for national meet

By CAYSON FRERICHS, Reporter

MACOMB, Illinois (NEWS3) – A Western Illinois track and field athlete has punched his ticket to the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships this weekend in Arkansas.

Ackeen Colley qualified in the 800-meter getting the final spot in the 16-man field.

“I think I am intrinsically motivated,” Colley said. “I really want to accomplish something big.”

Colley won the 800-meter race at The Summit League Conference Indoor Championship with a time of 1:48.61. This time also broke the Western 800-meter school record.

It wasn’t too long ago that Colley wasn’t sure if he would even be able to compete this season. Colley transferred to WIU from Oklahoma this past summer and was still waiting for the NCAA to sign off on his waiver.

“He did an awesome job of really staying committed, regardless of some uncertainties,” assistant track and field coach Brandon Hazouri said. “He (Ackeen) was coming to practice everyday ready to work knowing if he got the chance, he was going to be ready for it.”

Colley said coach Hazouri was one of the people who helped him get through the uncertain time.

“He’s helped me to remain calm and focused,” Colley said. “We weren’t sure what this year would look like, and he’s helped me to stay motivated and positive.”

Colley is hoping to become a first-time All American. A strong showing at the national meet could also help with Colley’s goal of making the Jamaican Olympic team for the upcoming summer Olympics.

Colley’s semi-final race starts at 2:55 p.m. on Friday. The top eight qualifiers will advance to Saturday’s final at 2:40 p.m.