TURLOCK, Calif.— Ten qualified members of the Adams State College women’s track and field team will look for team and individual glory as they compete in the 2011 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships, which get underway Thursday here at the Al Brenda Track at Warrior Stadium on the campus of Cal State Stanislaus.
The 3-day meet, which includes 21 total events for each gender, continues through Saturday evening.
Fans that cannot travel to California can follow the meet via live results or the NCAA's live stream.
The Grizzly women have representatives in nine of those events and are ranked third coming in according to the final set of U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association rankings, a spot they have occupied nearly all season.
The Grizzlies, who won their eighth straight Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference crown two weeks ago, also finished third at the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships that they hosted in Albuquerque, N.M. in March. The Grizzlies also took third at the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships in the fall and will be looking to improve upon an eighth place finish at last year’s outdoor meet.
Although the team aspirations and hopes for a first ever outdoor team national championship are certainly on their mind, the Grizzlies will also be gunning for individual accolades and have several national championship contenders.
Junior sprinter and hurdler Indira Spence (Trelawny, Jamaica) certainly highlights the list and is entered in three individual and four total events. Coming into the meet, she is ranked second in each of her three individual events— the 100 and 200-meter dashes and the 100-meter hurdles. She is also slated to run a leg on the Grizzlies’ third-seeded 4X100-meter relay team that will kick-off Adams State’s female contingent at 5:20 p.m. PDT, Thursday evening.
Spence already has three national championships to her credit after having won the last two indoor titles in the 60-meter hurdles while running a leg on the Grizzlies’ 2008 NCAA Division II National Championship 4X100-meter relay team during her freshman campaign.
This year’s squad, which also includes freshmen and first time national qualifiers Chelsea Fenderson (Aurora, Colo.) and Zenobia Sims (Sierra Vista, Ariz.), and senior Jazmine Ralph (Albuquerque, N.M.), who also ran in the same event at the 2009 meet, clocked an attitude-adjusted time of 45.24 seconds to win the RMAC title. Junior KayMarie Jones (St. Elizabeth, Jamaica), an individual qualifier in both the 100 and 400-meter hurdles, is also an alternate on the relay team and combined with Fenderson, Spence and Ralph to turn in an even faster time of 45.10 seconds, good to win the prestigious Mt. SAC Relays.
Both times are just slightly off the school-record setting time of 44.89, which Spence, Drew Houston, Sherline Duncan and Carla Kay Mills set in 2008 before winning the national title in 45.37. The Grizzlies’ current squad has been drawn into the second of two preliminary heats. The winners of each heat and the next six fastest squads from amongst the 13 total quartets will advance to the Saturday evening final.
Spence and Jones will also run preliminary heats in one of their respective individual events on Thursday evening as Spence will contest the 100-meter preliminaries at 6:40 p.m. PDT. The 11-time All-American clocked an altitude-adjusted time of 11.46 seconds to win the RMAC title in a personal-best 11.43 seconds and has been drawn into the third and final preliminary heat, each of which will qualify the heat winner for Saturday’s final. The top five other times will also be good for qualification.
If Jones, who earned All-America honors in both the 60-meter hurdles and distance medley relay at the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships, does not run in the relay to begin the night, she will get her meet started at 8:10 p.m. PDT in the preliminaries of the 400-meter hurdles. Jones is seeded third with her altitude-adjusted time of 59.16 seconds, turned in during her RMAC Championship and school-record setting effort of 59.05 seconds. She will run alongside junior teammate Lindsey Grasmick (Fowler, Colo.) in the third and final preliminary heat. Grasmick has a time of 1:00.26 and has contested the event at each of the last two national championships. She set the Grizzlies’ former school record of 1:00.06 at last year’s championships in Charlotte, N.C. and finished ninth. She took 15th as a freshman in 2009.
The heat winners and the other five top fastest qualifiers will advance to Saturday’s final.
The Grizzlies also have a trio of distance runners, slated to be in action on Thursday as senior Cassie Mitchell (Tustin, Calif.) and true freshman Kelly Lamb (Creede, Colo.) will contest the preliminaries of the 3,000-meter steeplechase at 7:10 p.m. before sophomore Kristen McGlynn (Bailey, Colo.) will run the 10,000-meter final 90 minutes later at 8:40 p.m. PDT.
Mitchell, a 4-time overall All-American who took eighth in the event last year, is the favorite coming in. She clocked a time of 10:24.29 at the Mt. SAC Relays last month. That time, which is nearly eight seconds faster than any other national qualifier, ranks her 10th on the all-time NCAA Division II performers list.
Meanwhile, Lamb is the ninth overall seed with a mark of 10:40.90, also set at the Mt. SAC Relays. Lamb also won the RMAC title at altitude in 11:11.42 and was named as the RMAC Freshman of the Year, an honor she also achieved during the cross country season, which later saw her pick up her first All-America honor.
Mitchell took third in the steeplechase at the RMAC Championships but saved energy to win both the 800 and 1,5000-meter titles, events she will not contest at the national meet.
Both Grizzlies will have the advantage of running together in the second preliminary heat, which by nature is also an advantage as all of the nine runners in that heat can watch the eight others in the first heat helping them judge pacing in order to earn one of the four “wild card” spots in Friday’s final if they are not able to take an automatic qualifying spot by finishing in the top four of the preliminary heat.
McGlynn, who will double by contesting the 5,000 meters, is also a strong contender for a national crown.
The 4-time overall All-American who finished fourth in the 5,000 meters during the indoor season after a sixth place finish at the national cross country meet, clocked an impressive time of 34:03.53 on May 1 at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational. That mark, which ranks her 14th on the all-time NCAA Division II performers list, is second only to Western Washington senior Sarah Porter, who posted a national-leading mark of 33:48.12 in the same meet. Eight total runners are entered in the finals-only 10,000-meter run.
McGlynn and many of the others will be able to put forth a little bit more energy this year as the preliminaries of the 5,000 meters have been eliminated from the schedule, a move that Grizzly coach Damon Martin had been pushing for, for several years.
McGlynn, who set the Grizzlies’ indoor school record of 16:16.51 in February, has an outdoor-best time of 16:19.07, good for fifth fastest amongst the 18 qualifiers, eight of whom are also entered in the 10,000 meters. The 5,000-meter final is slated for 8:35 p.m., Saturday as the penultimate event of the meet.
On Friday, the Grizzlies will also have at least three representatives as Spence will contest both the 200-meter dash and 100-meter hurdle preliminaries, scheduled just 70 minutes apart. In the 200-meter preliminaries, which are slated for 6 p.m. that evening, Spence is the second seed with her altitude-adjusted time of 23.48 seconds, turned in during her RMAC Championship effort of 23.41, which would have smashed the meet record if not for the overall allowable winds.
Spence will run in the fourth and final preliminary heat. The heat winners and the other four fastest times from the 22-woman field will advance to Saturday’s final. Spence took fourth in the event last year with a finals time of 23.60.
In the 100-meter hurdles, Spence is also the second seed with a season-best time of 13.08 seconds, set at the Mt. SAC Relays. She and Jones, who turned in an altitude-adjusted mark of 13.61 seconds to win the RMAC title in 13.57, will run in side-by-side lanes in the second of three preliminary heats.
Spence took second in the event last year while Jones finished fourth behind winning Spence in the 60-meter hurdles in her first national championship appearance as a Grizzly in March.
Shortly after the hurdle preliminaries, the Grizzlies can turn their attention to the shot put as redshirt freshman Katie Kruger (Alamosa, Colo.) will represent ASC in that event, slated for a 7:30 p.m. start. Kruger, the RMAC indoor and outdoor champion, took ninth during the indoor season with a mark of 14.21 meters (46'7 1/2") and enters the outdoor meet tied for 13th in the seeding with an outdoor-season best of 14.36 meters (47' 1 1/2"). Kruger has been drawn as the third thrower in the first flight.
If Mitchell or Lamb are able to advance in the steeplechase, they would contest the final at 7:45 p.m., Friday evening.
The Grizzlies’ biggest rivals in the team chase are likely to be Grand Valley State (Mich.), Lincoln (Mo.) and Central Missouri. Grand Valley State, which won their first ever team national championships in cross country and indoor track and field earlier this year, have a meet-high 25 total entries, including 14 in the middle and distance events where they will go toe-to-toe with the Grizzlies’ trio. The Lakers have been ranked No. 1 in the USTFCCCA National Power Rankings for each of the last six weeks after appearing in that spot in the preseason rankings.
Lincoln, which took over the No. 1 spot for the two weeks in between, has 17 total entries in the meet, including 13 in the sprints and hurdles, including national performance list leaders in all three of Spence’s events, which should allow for some interesting head-to-head battles. The Blue Tigers have won six of the last eight outdoor titles and also finished second during the indoor campaign.
Central Missouri, which took sixth at the indoor championships, has steadily moved up to No. 4 in the USTFCCCA rankings and are led by heptathlon favorite Lindsay Lettow, who is also entered in four other events. Lettow set a NCAA Division II Championship record of 4,064 points in the pentathlon indoors and is the top seed with 5,610 points in the heptathlon. She will have three other teammates in the 7-discpline competition which kicks off the women’s portion of the meet on Thursday. That event will certainly give the Jennies an early perspective on how they will fare overall.
UC-San Diego, which took third in 2009, Johnson C. Smith (N.C.), last year’s meet host, and Ashland (Ohio), especially strong in the throws, should also contend for a high placing as the No. 5, 6 and 7 teams in the USTFCCCA’s rankings.
Defending champion Angelo State (Texas), hit hard by graduation, is not even ranked amongst the top 25.
The Grizzly men have 11 athletes covering 15 total events and are ranked fourth in the USTFCCCA rankings coming in.
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