The Lincoln men's and women's track and field teams were denied a chance at winning indoor national championships earlier this month.
However, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association made an announcement that still recognized the Blue Tigers on a national level.
On Wednesday, Lincoln senior Rene Medley was named the USTFCCCA Division II women's indoor track national athlete of the year.
"It's a feat that she's the first Lincoln athlete to receive that," Lincoln athletic director John Moseley said. "We're extremely proud of her and all of her accomplishments throughout the season, and even throughout her career. This is a highlight of the season, but she's done great things throughout her time as a Blue Tiger, both on the track and in the classroom. We could not be prouder of all that she has accomplished."
Medley was one of three finalists for the Division II award, along with University of Mary's Ida Narbuvoll and Grand Valley State's Nicole Sreenan.
Medley qualified for the indoor track and field national championships in two events: the women's 60-meter dash and the 200-meter dash. She was seeded first in both events, with season-best times of 7.37 seconds in the 60 and 23.57 seconds in the 200.
In her first two seasons at Lincoln, Medley was a seven-time national champion and a 12-time All-American in the indoor and outdoor seasons combined. She has finished in the top-eight in each event she has qualified for at the national championships.
Here biggest feat came last May at the outdoor track and field championships, where she helped Lincoln to a team national championship by winning four event national titles: the 100-meter dash, the 200, the 4x100-meter relay and the 4x400-meter relay.
Medley was set to add to her list of accolades, but the 2020 indoor track and field championships, which were scheduled to begin March 13, were canceled by the NCAA less than 24 hours before the first event due to COVID-19 concerns.
"It was disappointing," Moseley said. "It's certainly disappointing for our student-athletes that put so much work into their seasons. We're extremely proud of how the track and field program, men and women, and their athletes have represented the institution all year."
The USTFCCCA also had Lincoln sophomore Ryan Brown as a finalist for the Division II men's indoor field national athlete of the year, along with Missouri Southern's Rajindra Campbell and Colorado School of Mines' Connor McLean. The award went to McLean on Thursday.
Brown was going into the national championships as the No. 1 seed in both the men's long jump (25 feet, 6 inches) and the triple jump (52-1).
"Ryan has had a tremendous career as well," Moseley said. "He's a national champion, he's been athlete of the week several times. He's another quite impressive student."
Lincoln head coach Victor Thomas is also a finalist for both the men's and women's Division II track and field national coach of the year. Tiffin's Jeremy Croy and Missouri Southern's Bryan Schiding are also finalists for the men's honor, while Grand Valley State's Jerry Baltes and University of Mary's Dennis Newell are also finalists for the women's award.
The Division II coach of the year awards will be announced at 11 a.m. today.
"It's speaks to the volume of the program that coach Thomas has built throughout his time at Lincoln," Moseley said. "He's consistently had student-athletes that have won in their competition, as well as represent the university well away from the track."
Heading into the national championships, the USTFCCCA had the Lincoln men ranked No. 1 in the country, while the women were ranked No. 2.
The Lincoln women have won 14 national championships in program history: five during the indoor season, nine during the outdoor season.
"They were right there for the possibility of capturing what could have been the 15th national championship for women's track, and a (first) national championship in the sport of men's track and field," Moseley said. "While your heart breaks for those athletes because you know how much work they've put in, we understand that these are unprecedented times, and the safety and well-being of our country is more important that any sport or any activity.
"But your heart does break for the athletes and for the coaches, with the amount of work they put in."
When the NCAA announced all winter and spring national championships were canceled, Moseley said his attention immediately turned to the Lincoln track and field teams, which were already in Birmingham, Ala.
"We were just thinking about the logistics of getting all of those athletes back to our campus safely," he said.
Lincoln had taken a bus to the national championships, and the Blue Tigers returned to campus the following day.
Although Lincoln shut down its campus Wednesday, Moseley said a little more than 50 students are still on campus. Many of those remaining students are on the track and field team, which has 17 athletes on the men's and women's roster listed with Jamaica as their home country.
"They're being allowed to stay on campus right now," Moseley said.
Each April, Lincoln hosts the True Blue Awards to recognize its student-athletes. Moseley said that event has been canceled for this school year.
"We're still in discussions on how we can recognize the accomplishments of our athletes and coaches," he said.