Chelimo, Stewartson win nat'l titles in day one of NAIA Outdoors
MARION, Ind. – Both the Shorter University men and women’s track and field teams entered the 2011 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships as respective favorites based off their record finishes at the national indoor meets two months ago.
Knowing that the outdoor competition was their strength, the Hawks and Lady Hawks put themselves in a position to succeed at the outdoor nationals with record setting spring seasons, preparation that has already produced results in the form of two individual national champions in May.
Junior Ashlie Stewartson coasted to the women’s long jump national crown and freshman Paul Chelimo captured his second individual national championship of the year by winning the 10,000-meter run as Shorter’s men and women’s teams completed competition on the first of three days at the Outdoor Track and Field National Championship in Marion, Ind.
After a rain-soaked opening day of competition, both teams emerged in good position, and with important points thanks to the individual titles, in their quests toward national team titles.
It all started with Stewartson, a multiple All-America performer in her career who entered nationals ranked No. 2 behind teammate Tamala Daley in the long jump. She took advantage of her opportunity, jumping to a school record 20 feet, 3.75 inches to secure her first-ever individual national.
Daley made sure that Shorter remained 1-2 in the country in the long jump with a gutsy performance.
Daley, who suffered a knee injury two weeks ago in Shorter’s final regular season meet, overcame the pain to post a jump of 19 feet, 7 inches, well below her national-best jump, but more than enough to secure a 1-2 finish and 18 big points for her team – the most points scored in the first day of national competition in Lady Hawk history.
The ladies are tied for second place in the team standings after day one.
The spotlight then shifted to Chelimo, Shorter’s indoor national champion in the 3,000-meter run, who again raced to the top of the podium.
Chelimo ran away from the field in a time of 29:44 in the 10,000-meter run to claim the top spot and secure his second national crown in his first season with the Hawks.
Chelimo’s 10 points were supplemented by six points from Oscar Ogwaro, a hero at the national indoor meet in March via his first place finish in the 5,000-meter run.
Ogwaro narrowly missed out on putting Shorter 1-2 in the 10,000, finishing third with a 29:50 that propelled Shorter to the top of the leader board after the first day of competition with 16 points.
The successes didn’t stop there, as several Lady Hawks and Hawks put themselves in a position to score points with strong performances in the preliminary rounds.
On the women’s side, Mariah Freeman, Shorter’s lone entry in the heptathlon, finished eighth in the 100 hurdles (15.45), second in the high jump (5-05), 16th in the shot put (26-0), and seventh in the 200-meter dash (26.40). Cumulatively, Freeman earned 2,735 points, good enough for ninth place at the end of the first day.
The preliminary rounds ended with every Lady Hawk making it to the next round of competition.
The women’s 4x100 relay team of Lakeisha Spikes, Stewartson, Brittany Sewell, and Vanderlyn Watts placed second in its heat (46.44). Their time is the fourth-best going into Friday’s semi-finals.
Watts came back to the track to compete in the 100 hurdles. With a runner-up finish in her heat (14.27), Watts has secured a position into the semi-finals and the record books – her time eclipsed her own school record.
Sewell soon followed with her first round of the 100-meter dash. A finalist a year ago, Sewell took third place in her heat (11.95).
Both Kennisha Holden (1:04.00) and Jessica Coons (1:03.51) finished third in their respective heats of the 400 hurdles.
Justyna Mudy and Sarah Massey led the way for the distance runners, as both won their heats of the steeplechase. Mudy, the reigning two-time national champion in the event, came through in 11:06. Massey, however, leads all competitors with 11:00.23. Once again, the two will compete in the finals in hopes of adding valuable points for the team.
The men were equally impressive as they began their run at the outdoor crown.
Leading the way was freshman sensation Paul Chelimo, who won his second national championship
Randy Dameron started the day off by winning his heat of the 400-meter dash (47.53). He sits in second place overall heading into the semi-finals.
Albert Huntley and Travis Benton led a large contingent of Hawks in the 100-meter dash.
Huntley (10.44) won his heat, while Benton placed second in his heat with the same time. Allen Huntley, coming off an ankle injury, placed third in his heat (10.56). Nigel Talton also placed third in his heat (10.60).
Shaun Kennedy failed to make it through the first round as he finished sixth in his heat in a time of 10.88. Kennedy finishes his career as the third fastest runner in school history.
Senior and four-time Mid-South champion Nick Dodson, the favorite in the 400 hurdles, began his race for that elusive national championship. Dodson, who has posted a runner-up finish at the national championship in the 400 hurdles in each of the past three seasons, breezed through the preliminary round of his race (52.41) and put himself closer to the finals.
Peter Limo ran in the 1500-meter prelims, but was unable to secure a spot in the finals (4:04.64). Eliud N’getich, a newcomer to the steeplechase, missed out on the finals by less than one second (9:32.13).
Competition on Friday gets underway at 10:30 a.m. CDT with the conclusion of the heptathlon. Running events take center stage at 1:30 p.m.