Relay Repeat: Wolves Reclaim DMR Title At Indoor Nationals
Western Oregon's Dustin Nading led off the national title DMR that ran a time of 9:41.40. Nading also qualified for the finals in the mile. Photo by Loren Orr.
Western Oregon's Dustin Nading led off the national title DMR that ran a time of 9:41.40. Nading also qualified for the finals in the mile. Photo by Loren Orr.

Friday, March 9, 2018

PITTSBURG, Kan. – The finish wasn’t nearly as dramatic as it was a year ago, but Western Oregon’s men’s distance medley relay team sure knows how to pull out those close races.

The Wolves successfully defended their championship in the event to lead the GNAC performances on day one of the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships at Pittsburg State University’s Plaster Center. The team of Dustin Nading, Aaron Whitaker, AJ Holmberg and David Ribich won in a time of 9:41.40, crossing the line fourth-tenths of a second ahead of CSU-Pueblo and five-tenths ahead of third place Grand Valley State.

The repeat championship capped an exceptional day for the Wolves, who earned one other All-American trophy on the day while advancing three individuals through to Saturday’s finals.

Senior Kennedy Rufener claimed her first All-American trophy in the women’s 5,000 meters, placing eighth in a time of 16:49.68. Her distance teammate, senior Suzie Van De Grift, automatically earned a spot in Saturday’s women’s mile final after placing second in her heat with a time of 4:50.09. It was the third fastest time of the preliminaries.

Senior Olivia Woods was the top time qualifier in the preliminaries of the women’s 800 meters, running the third fastest time of the day at 2:09.16. Woods will be joined by Alaska Anchorage senior Danielle McCormick, who automatically qualified for the finals by winning her heat in a time of 2:10.29.

Nading, meanwhile, was one of three time qualifiers for the finals in the men’s mile thanks to his presence in the opening heat. His time of 4:07.20 was fifth in the heat, but good enough to advance the junior to Saturday. Simon Fraser senior Oliver Jorgensen was 13th with a time of 4:12.93.

Concordia picked up its first Division II track and field All-American in senior Christina MacDonald, who placed fourth in the women’s weight throw with a mark of 63 feet, 2.75 inches. The Cavaliers’ Tori Johnson, meanwhile, placed tied for 14th in the women’s high jump with her clearance of 5 feet, 5.75 inches.

Also picking up All-American honors was Central Washington’s Halle Irvine. The sophomore placed sixth in the women’s pole vault with a clearance of 12 feet 6.25 inches. In addition to the All-American trophy, the mark moves Irvine to No. 7 on the GNAC All-Time List.

In addition to the WOU men’s DMR, the GNAC saw two teams place in the top-eight in the women’s DMR. Simon Fraser’s team of Miryam Bassett, Renate Bluschke, Alana Mussatto and Julia Howley placed third with a time of 11:30.09 while the Seattle Pacific squad of Kate Lilly, Lani Taylor, Chynna Phan and Mary Charleson placed fifth in a time of 11:31.69. Alaska Anchorage was 10th with a time of 11:55.60.

Also advancing to Saturday’s finals is Central Washington senior Ali Anderson, who ran the third fastest time in the preliminaries of the women’s 400 meters in a time of 54.98 seconds. Her Wildcats’ teammate, senior Kodiak Landis, ended the first day of competition of the men’s heptathlon in eighth place with a score of 2,967 points. Landis had three top-five finishes in the individual events, led by his second-place finish in the 60 meters (6.99 seconds).

The women’s 800 meters featured six GNAC athletes in the 20-entrant field. Simon Fraser’s Alana Mussatto just missed qualifying for the final, placing ninth with a time of 2:10.82. Alaska Anchorage’s Tamara Perez was 14th in 2:11.90. The Seawolves’ Akeilia Knight placed 16th in 2:13.15 while Ruth Cvancara was 19th in 2:13.76. In the women’s mile, Simon Fraser’s Miryam Bassett was 14th with a time of 4:58.80 and teammate Paige Nock was 20th in 5:13.81.

Seattle Pacific’s Scout Cai finished tied for 14th place in the women’s pole vault with a clearance of 11 feet, 8.5 inches. Central Washington’s Mariyah Vongsaveng was 15th in the preliminaries of the women’s 60-meter hurdles in a time of 8.66 seconds.