It's Kurgat Again! Caroline Cruises To 5K Indoor Title
The national title is the fourth for Caroline Kurgat, who has won two outdoor track titles and a national cross country crown. Photo by Gabe Lynn.
The national title is the fourth for Caroline Kurgat, who has won two outdoor track titles and a national cross country crown. Photo by Gabe Lynn.

Friday, March 8, 2019

PITTSBURG, Kan. – It was Caroline Kurgat’s world in the 5,000 meters. Everyone else was just living in it.

As expected, the senior and Division II all-time record holder in the event cruised to her fourth national championship (first indoors) to lead GNAC competitors on the first day of the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships at the Plaster Center on the campus of Pittsburg State University.

Kurgat led from the second lap on and never looked back, taking the title with a meet record time of 16:06.37. She finished 10 seconds ahead of Adams State’s Elisha Flanagan for the victory. Kurgat then turned around and anchored the Seawolves’ distance medley relay team. The quartet of Ruth Cvancara, Vanessa Aniteye, Danielle McCormick and Kurgat earned All-American honors with a second-place finish time of 11:26.00.

Kurgat is also the favorite in the women’s 3,000 meters, where she is also the Division II record-holder, which will be contested on Saturday.

McCormick, meanwhile, leads two GNAC athletes to qualify for Saturday’s final in the women’s 800 meters. The defending champion, McCormick turned in the second-fastest time in the preliminary rounds with a time of 2:07.83. Western Oregon’s Olivia Woods ran the sixth-fastest time and a school-record mark of 2:08.73 to make the finals. Simon Fraser’s Sophie Dodd ran the seventh-fastest time at 2:09.06, but did not make the field for the final.

Kurgat picked up one of two individual All-America trophies for GNAC athletes on the day. Seattle Pacific freshman Peace Igbonagwam placed sixth in the women’s long jump in her first nationals competition. She had her best mark of 19 feet, 2.75 inches on her second attempt of the competition.

The GNAC also had two All-American awards in the men’s distance medley relay. The Simon Fraser team of Pierre-Louis Detourbe, Nate St Romain, Carlos Vargas and Rowan Doherty was the national runner-up with a time of 9:48.54. Alaska Anchorage’s quarter of Felix Kemboi, Nathaniel Brunett, Eduardo Orozco and Drew Johnson placed seventh in 9:50.04. Western Oregon’s squad of Justin Crosswhite, Gabe Arce-Torres, Curt Knott and Tyler Jones just missed another set of trophies, placing ninth in 9:50.77.

In the men’s heptathlon, Central Washington sophomore Braydon Maier and senior Kodiak Landis sit tied in 11th place after day one with a score of 2,707 points. Landis opened the competition with a fourth-place finish in the 60-meter hurdles (7.15 seconds), while Maier topped his day by placing 10th in the shot put (37-7.75).

Freshman Tyler Cronk of Saint Martin’s finished tied for 12th in the men’s high jump in his first national meet, clearing the competition’s opening height of 6 feet, 8.5 inches.

Northwest Nazarene senior Lexi Tubbs finished 10th in the preliminaries of the women’s 60-meter hurdles, clocking 8.80 seconds, while Central Washington senior Mariyah Vongsaveng was 12th in 8.72 seconds. In the women’s mile, Seattle Pacific junior Kate Lilly led the way with a 12th place finish in the preliminaries in 4:54.79 while Alaska Anchorage freshman Nancy Jeptoo placed 14th in 5:01.15.

In the men’s mile, Deotourbe led the way as he placed 12th in 4:21.33. Junior Aaron Ahl finished 16th in 4:28.29. The Clan also saw its women’s distance medley relay team of Dodd, Renate Bluschke, Mairin Shields-Brown and Paige Nock finish 12th in a time of 12:17.14.

The second day of the national meet begins on Saturday at 10 a.m. (Central) with the fifth event of the heptathlon and the start of the pentathlon.