With GNACs In Rear View, Teams Look Ahead To Nationals
The top-three finishers in the women's 60-meter hurdles, won by CWU's Mariyah Vongsaveng (left), were within .004 seconds of each other. Photo by Loren Orr.
The top-three finishers in the women's 60-meter hurdles, won by CWU's Mariyah Vongsaveng (left), were within .004 seconds of each other. Photo by Loren Orr.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Payton Lewis, Northwest Nazarene
Sophomore • Nampa, Idaho

Lewis won both the heptathlon and the pole vault. His 20 team points tied him for top point scorer in the men’s meet. Lewis won the heptathlon with a score of 5,163 points, the third best point total in GNAC history. In the process, he set the GNAC heptathlon record in the pole vault with a mark of 16 feet, 6.75 inches. Not long after the heptathlon, Lewis came back to repeat as champion in the pole vault as he cleared a height of 15 feet, 10 inches.

Karolin Anders, Alaska Anchorage
Senior • Berlin, Germany

Anders’ 31 team points were the most of any athlete in the meet. The scoring also made her the top women’s pointer scorer in GNAC Women’s Track and Field Championship history (112). Anders became a three-time champion in the pentathlon with a score of 3,711 points, in the process setting a GNAC pentathlon record in the long jump at 18 feet, 8.75 inches. She went on to repeat as long jump champion the same day with her mark of18 feet, 5.75 inches. Anders also placed third in the triple jump and fourth in the high jump.

Meet Recaps: Men's Day 1 | Men's Day 2 | Women's Day 1 | Women's Day 2 | Meet Results

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT: Everyone loves to watch a close race, but the women’s 60-meter hurdles final was a little too close. After the women has crossed the line, times of 8.72 seconds popped up on the scoreboard for Central Washington’s Mariyah Vongsaveng, Seattle Pacific’s Mailea Luquin and Alaska Anchorage’s Rosie Smith. It took 10 minutes for the timers to evaluate the finish line photo to determine that Vongsaveng was the winner and the GNAC champion.

How close was it? The three athletes crossed the line within four-thousandths of a second of each other. Vongsaveng won in a time of 8.713 seconds. Smith was second in 8.714 seconds and Luquin was third in 8.717 seconds. Lexi Tubbs of Northwest Nazarene was fourth in 8.75 seconds. Watch The Video

REPEAT CHAMPIONS: The GNAC Indoor Track and Field Championships produced a total of 15 repeat champions. Alaska Anchorage’s Karolin Anders and Jamie Ashcroft were the two three-time champions. Anders won her third straight title the women’s pentathlon, along with her second consecutive long jump title, while Ashcroft became a three-time winner in the women’s 60 meters.

Men’s repeat champions included Western Washington’s Travis Milbrandt in the 60-meter hurdles, Western Oregon’s Cody Warner in the 200 meters, Simon Fraser’s Joel Webster in the 400 meters, Cameron Proceviat in the 800 meters and Vladislav Tsygankov in the long jump; Montana State Billings’ Robert Peterson in the mile (won in 2014) and Northwest Nazarene’s Payton Lewis in the pole vault.

Other women’s repeat winners included Seattle Pacific’s Jahzelle Ambus in the 400 meters, Alaska Anchorage’s Joyce Chelimo in the 3,000 meters and 5,000 meters (won both events in 2014), Western Washington’s Jasmine McMullin in the triple jump and the Simon Fraser distance medley relay team.

SMASHING RECORDS: It is one thing to break a conference record. It is another thing to smash it by a large margin. And it is yet another thing to have two athletes from the same school both coast under the record by siginficant margins.

That is what happened with Seattle Pacific’s Jahzelle Ambus and Jalen Tims in the women’s 400 meters. Ambus successfully defended her title in record-smashing fashion. Her winning time of 54.87 seconds was over a half second under the record of 55.54 seconds set by Central Washington’s Terran Legard in 2005. Tims, meanwhile, was also a half second under the record as she finished second with a time of 55.21 seconds as she dropped over two seconds off of her previous lifetime best.

The performances line the Falcons’ duo up for a trip to the NCAA Division II Championships in Pittsburg, Kan. Ambus currently sits No. 7 on the NCAA provisional qualifier list while Tims is ninth.

WICKED FOUR-EVENT PROGRAM: Perhaps the most grueling and most gutsy performance of the GNAC Indoor Track and Field Championships belonged to Montana State BIllings’ Robert Peterson. The senior competed in four events in the two days, performing well in all.

On Friday, Peterson led most of the way in a strategic men’s 3,000-meter final, only being overtaken by Alaska Anchorage’s Dominik Notz and Henry Cheseto in the final three laps as he finished third in 8:33.39. Peterson turned right around and ran the anchor leg on the Yellowjackets’ distance medley relay team, surging from fifth place to lead Billings to victory in a time of 10:06.41. It was only the fourth individual event title for the school in conference indoor meet history.

Until the next day, that is. Peterson again ran a gutsy race and held off a challenge by Western Oregon’s David Ribich to win in 4:10.13, earning his second mile conference title with a meet record. Peterson closed his final indoor championship with by anchoring the Yellowjackets’ 4x400 meter relay.

Of the 30 points scored by Montana State Billings in the meet, Peterson was involved with 26 of them.

CHELIMO’S TRIPLE: Alaska Anchorage’s Joyce Chelimo became just the second athlete in GNAC history, male or female, to sweep the distance events in an indoor track and field championship meet. The senior was barely challenged as she cruised to victories in the mile (5:00.28), the 3,000 meters (9:50.70) and the 5,000 meters (17:05.05). The other person to complete the triple? Her husband, Micah Chelimo, who swept all three events in 2013 (the 3,000 was first contested at the conference meet in 2013).

BROKEN RECORDS: The GNAC Indoor Track and Field Championships yielded GNAC records from Jahzelle Ambus in the women’s 400 meters, Simon Fraser’s Joel Webster in the men’s 400 meters and the Clan’s Vladislav Tsygankov in the men’s long jump. In addition to those marks, conference meet records were broken by Montana State Billings’ Robert Peterson in the men’s mile, Alaska Anchorage’s Dominik Notz in the men’s 5,000 meters, Western Washington’s Jasmine McMullin in the women’s triple jump and Concordia’s McKenzie Warren in the women’s shot put. Saint Martin’s Mikel Smith and Northwest Nazarene’s Cole Hoberg tied three other competitiors for the conference meet record in the men’s high jump at 6-9.

LAST CHANCE, BEST CHANCE: Teams will have one more chance to hit a qualifying mark for the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships this weekend, with five GNAC teams scheduled to take part in the SPU Final Qualifier at the Dempsey Indoor Center in Seattle. Qualifying marks will be accepted nationally until Sun., Mar. 6. It is expected that fields for the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships will be 20-22 qualifiers. To date, three GNAC athletes have automatically qualified for nationals in four events while 31 others are provisionally qualified and currently in the top-20 in 20 different events. In addition, nine GNAC relays currently rank within the top-20.