(Neb.)- Three CSC All-Time Greats At National Championships
CHADRON, Neb. -- Three Chadron State College women who already rank among the Eagles' all-time greats, will be trying to enhance their status even more at the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships in Birmingham, Alabama, this weekend.
All three are seniors and hold the school records in the events where they are national qualifiers.
Mel Herl of Eaton, Colorado, will be among the 18 weight throwers competing at 1:30 CT Thursday. Stachia Reuwsaat of Rapid City will defend her national long jump title starting at 2 o'clock. About the time the long jump is completed, or 3:45 p.m., Reuwsaat will run the preliminaries of the 60-meter dash.
The third CSC contestant, Tessa Gorsuch, also of Rapid City, will run the 60-meter high hurdles prelims at 4:15 Friday. The hurdle finals are set for 2:15 Saturday, followed by the 60 dash that Reuwsaat hopes includes her.
Herl will throw the shot at 1:30 Saturday afternoon.
Chadron State coach Brad Gamble said he's eager to see the trio in action and is confident they'll do well. He notes they are dedicated, seasoned athletes who have excelled at major meets. Each was a gold medalist at the recent RMAC Championships.
"All of them are talented, have worked extremely hard and done well in pressure situations," Gamble noted. "Chadron State couldn't have three better contestants at nationals than this trio. Besides being outstanding athletes, they're outstanding people and students."
This will be the third time Reuwsaat has long jumped at the national indoor meet. She placed sixth by going 19 feet, 1½ inches as a sophomore in 2015. She also placed seventh at the national outdoor meet that May.
Last year, Reuwsaat won the gold medal indoors by hitting 20-4 ½ and was the runner-up outdoors at 21-2 ½.
She has the lead entering this year's championships with the 20-7 ¾ jump that won the RMAC crown again on Feb. 25.
Naturally, there'll be lots of great competition. Rellie Kauptin of West Texas A&M has a mark of 20-7 and Nikki Squire of Queens University in North Caroline is third at 20-1 ¾.
Reuwsaat and Squire tied for the longest jump at last year's indoor meet, but the Chadron State star also had a mark of 20-1 ¾ that was four inches farther than Squire's second-best effort, claiming the gold medal for Reuwsaat.
It was snug when they met again at the outdoor championships. Squire went 21-2 ¾ to win by a quarter inch, with a narrowly stronger tailwind.
Among the challengers will be Sarah Hunt of Shippensburg of Pennsylvania, who has gone 20- ½ this year, and Shakinah Brooks of St. Augustine's in North Carolina, who placed fourth last year at 20-1 ½ and returns with a season-best of 19-8.
Reuwsaat and Squire also could lock horns in the 60-meter dash. Squire is the defending champion in 7.32 seconds. She's tied for fifth on this year's pre-meet list at 7.47 seconds, while Reuwsaat is tied for third at 7.45 seconds.
The event leader going to nationals is Deana Richardson of Texas A&M-Kingsville in 7.40 seconds. Close behind is Dianna Johnson of Adams State at 7.42. Ornella Livingston of St. Augustine's is tied with Reuwsaat for third place. Another Adams State sprinter, Sunayna Wahl, shares the fifth spot with Squires.
Entering nationals, Herl has the second longest mark in the weight throw and is sixth in the shot put.
She has a career-best of 71-10 in the weight throw and has exceeded 70 feet at six other meets this winter.
The national lead of 73-5 ¼ belongs to Kaitlyn Long of Winona State in Minnesota. Now a junior, Long has won the weight throw past two years, hitting 68-8 ¾ in 2015 and 74-5 ¾ a year ago. The next four national placewinners last year, when Herl redshirted, were seniors, but Tynelle Gumbs of Findlay of Ohio has reached 70-4 ½ this year, making her the third contestant with a 70-foot throw.
The women's shot put will be more wide open than it appears on the Division II leader board. That's because the pacesetter by 5 ½ feet, McKenzie Warren of Concordia University in Portland with a heave of 57-9 ¾, can't compete at nationals since her school is still on provisional status after joining the NCAA three years ago and its athletes aren't allowed to take part in national competition until next fall.
That means Megan Tomei of Ashland of Ohio has the best throw of 52-2 ½ among this year's qualifiers. Jasmine Smith of Pittsburg State of Kansas is second with 51-6 ½ after placing fifth a year ago at 49-4. Last year's fourth and sixth place finishers also are returning, but Herl's RMAC gold medal toss of 50-2 ½ exceeds their top throws this year.
CSC's Gorsuch goes to Birmingham with the eighth best time of 8.52 seconds in the hurdles. The fastest mark of 8.35 belongs to Emilyn Dearman of Pittsburg State. Tonie Pandohie of the University of Mary in Bismarck is next at 8.42.
Altoniece Williams of Minnesota State-Mankato was the runner-up last year in 8.42 seconds and has a best of 8.44 this year.
Gorsuch wants to prove she can place at nationals. Two years ago, she also qualified and was off to blazing start when she hit a hurdle. She missed last season because of an injury but is running better than ever, Gamble says.
Among the men competing at nationals is former Gordon-Rushville distance standout Cole Wellnitz, now a senior at Nebraska-Kearney. His time of 4:05.54 ranks 13th in the mile run. Three Adams State runners top the mile list, paced by defending national champion Oliver Aitchison. His winning time a year ago was 4:12.69. His best this year is 4:01.32.
Links to live coverage of the meet will be available on the track and field schedule at ChadronEagles.com when they become available.
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