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Sunday, March 16, 2008

NCAA D-3 report

I went down to Ada to see the Division III championships this weekend.

Meet website

The Ohio Northern University Sports Center seats maybe 500, tops. Track events on the final day didn't start until 2:30, but by noon there was literally nowhere left to sit. Eventually people were standing four and five deep.

Event of the Meet: Women's 4x400. Going into the penultimate event, the 5k, Washington (Mo.) had 23 points to Illinois Wesleyan's 20. Back a bit was Wartburg with 14, but they had a runner in the event. Anna Kraayenbrink ran a smart race, starting well back and moving all the way up to third before surrendering two places in the final lap. She gave her team another five points.

Washington did not have a 4x400 relay team qualified, but IWU and Wartburg did. In fact they were the two fastest relay teams entered, so the race was essentially a battle for the overall team title. I paid no attention to Texas Lutheran's huge lead after three legs, because who won the event didn't matter as much as who won between IWU and Wartburg.

At the final exchange, TLU had a sizable lead, and Wartburg was several steps ahead of IWU. Anchoring for Wartburg was Hannah Baker, who had been third in the individual 400. Anchoring for IWU was Rachel Anderson, who won the 400 with a new fieldhouse record.

Anderson overtook Baker on the backstretch of the first lap, but Baker stayed right on her. Coming off the final turn, TLU anchor Taffey Gray met Riggy big-time, Anderson and Baker blazed past, and IWU held on for the win and the championship.

Runner-up for event of the day: Men's mile. Heavy favorite Peter Kosgei won a tight stretch run by 0.01 seconds. Runner-up Paul Zdroik of Wis-La Crosse has the best 'stache I've seen this side of 1983.

Performance of the Day: A weird pick, but it's mine. Becca Jordahl, a junior at Wis.-River Falls, has run two indoor 5ks in her lifetime--her nationals qualifier and a 17:02.89 for second yesterday. She says she really didn't take running seriously until she got to college (she was more into soccer in high school, and didn't take up running in college until last year).

Disappointment of the Day: Men's 800 meters. Ohio Northern junior Jimmy O'Brien won the 800 at both the indoor and outdoor nationals last year, but faced a stiff challenge in mile champ Peter Kosgei. O'Brien got thunderous applause when introduced, and if he won the place would have exploded. It should have been a great race. But O'Brien got a bad start, ran the whole race in lane 2, and never gave himself a chance. He barely got third.

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