Saturday, May 23, 2009

No surprise--Seattle Pacific's Jessica Pixler wins her second career NCAA D-II 1500m title...

SAN ANGELO, Texas -- Just two weeks ago, Jessica Pixler was in the swimming pool, working out in the water because of a sore hamstring.

By this week, she was back on the track -- and back on top of the NCAA awards podium, too.

Battling the wind, the Seattle Pacific junior captured the second NCAA Division II outdoor 1,500-meter title of her career on Saturday afternoon. She fended off Wisconsin-Parkside’s Jessica Monson at the wire to prevail by 63 hundredths of a second at the LeGrand Sports Complex.

Pixler (Sammamish, Wash./Eastlake HS) stopped the watches in 4 minutes, 26.75 seconds, with Monson right behind her in 4:27.38. SPU teammate Jane Larson (Fall City, Wash./Cedar Park Christian HS) was fifth.

“I just thank God I was able to run today and was able to run pain-free,” Pixler said after her earning her fourth NCAA championship this school year (she won cross country last fall and added a pair of indoor track titles during the winter) and the eighth of her career (two cross country, four indoor track and two outdoor track).

“I was hoping to PR in the race and to run even splits, but I went out a little too fast and that came back and got me in the end,” Pixler added. “I was just thankful to be out running.”

Larson hit the wire in 4:32.45. This was her first time in the NCAA 1,500. Larson ran in the now-discontinued 3,000 meters as a freshman and sophomore, taking second place in that event last year.

Both Pixler and Larson earned All-American status.

Pixler came into Thursday’s preliminaries at the top seed with a 4:17.68 and won her heat in 4:31.43, the day’s fourth-fastest time. Among those ahead of her was Northwest Nazarene rival Ashley Puga, whose 4:29.41 on Thursday made her the top seed for Saturday’s final.

But Pixler took charge of the title race right away and never let up.

“Jessica went out real aggressive, and built about a 30-meter lead,” Falcons coach Karl Lerum said. “There was a pretty stiff wind at the time of the race. Under normal conditions, she would have been fine. But she had to work really hard the first two laps.”

Of Pixler’s eight NCAA crowns, this one, with the winning margin of 63 hundredths, was the closest. Her previous close call was in the outdoor 1,500 in 2007. Pixler, then a freshman won that by 1.87 seconds.

Larson also had plenty of hard work to do on Saturday after getting boxed in with a group right at the start.

“I was trapped in the middle of that. I had to get out around it,” Larson said. “Going into 800, I had to make a move. The only way to do that was to run way out on the corner. I started gaining some ground, but with 200 meters to go, I got passed by one girl, then two more on the straightaway.”

Even so, Lerum was plenty pleased with Larson’s performance.

“Jane ran such a gutsy race,” Lerum said. “She made big moves in the first part of the race. She went out and she wasn’t running any conservative race. She was going for it.”

Jeeni Schantin of the Falcons let go with her best throw of the day on the first try, tossing the javelin 153 feet, 11 inches, to take third place in that event on Saturday.

The Seattle Pacific senior, making her second appearance in the D-2 nationals, moved up one spot from her 2008 finish. Schantin (West Linn, Ore.) improved more than eight feet from last year’s performance of 145-9.

“Jeeni had a very comfortable first throw,” Lerum said.

Fellow Falcon senior Lauren VerMulm (Mount Vernon, Wash./Mount Vernon HS) wound up 10th at 137-10. She was going for her fourth All-American honor, but that required a top-8 finish. Schantin did earn All-American for the second straight year.

Linda Brivule of Abilene Christian repeated as javelin champion, winning with a throw of 162-11. She set the meet record last year at 169-9, and came into this year’s meet as the top seed at 184-6½.

Seattle Pacific finished with 20 points to tie for 11th in the team standings.

For Western Washington, senior Heidi Dimmitt from Wenatchee (left/photo courtesy WWU) placed fifth in the 400-meter hurdles, as did freshman Ellie Siler (Spokane/Lewis & Clark) in the 400, and sophomore Sarah Porter (Hockinson) finished seventh in the 5,000 to earn All-America honors.

It was Porter's second All-America effort in three days as she placed fifth in the 10,000 (36:02.72) on opening-day Thursday.

Porter, who had the best time in Friday's 5,000 semifinals (17:15.90), was clocked in 17:02.19 in the final.

"She led for the first two miles," Halsell said. "That was the strategy she needed to win, but it cost her a little at the end. It was a tough double for her."

It was the second straight year that Dimmitt received All-America recognition in the 400 hurdles as she placed fourth in 2008. She entered the competition with the 12th best time nationally in Division II.

Making her third consecutive national appearance, Dimmitt finished fifth with a time of 1:00.83.

"She had an amazing career," said Halsell of Dimmitt.

Siler, who ranked 16th nationally, was clocked in 55.46 as she placed fifth in the 400. Just 1.03 seconds separated the first five finishers.

"It was fun seeing a freshman get after it," said Halsell.

Both Dimmitt (1:00.31) and Siler (54.59) broke school records in preliminary heats Thursday.

Two other Vikings competed in finals Saturday. Clara Cook (Sr., Wenatchee) tied for 11th in the women's high jump, clearing 5-6; and Anthony Tomsich (Jr., Fairbanks, AK/West Valley) placed 11th in the men's 1,500 with a time of 3:59.20.

The Vikings placed 17th in the women's team standings with 14 points.

Complete results from the NCAA Division II championships can be accessed by clicking here.

NOTE: The sports information offices of Seattle Pacific and Western Washington contributed to this report.

No comments:

Blog Archive