Saturday, February 20, 2010

Seattle Pacific wins yet another GNAC indoor championship; Western finishes second in both meets...

NAMPA, Idaho--Jessica Pixler (left/photo courtesy Seattle Pacific University) won the women's 800 and mile each for the third time in four years to lead Seattle Pacific to its seventh straight women's team title at the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Indoor track-and-field championship meet Saturday at Jackson's Track in Nampa.

Pixler, who set meet records in both events, was selected the Outstanding Female Performer. The men's award went to Western Oregon's Matson Hardie who set a meet and GNAC record in winning the long jump.

Seattle Pacific won its seventh straight women's team title, while Western Oregon won its third straight men's title and its fourth overall.

Western Washington finished second in both divisions. The Falcon women outscored the Vikings 179 1/2 to 159 1/2. WWU's score was the highest ever for the runner up in the meet.

The Falcons came up big in the distances, even bigger in the jumps. Add in a pole vault victory for junior Melissa Peaslee, the high jump title for Brittany Aanstad, plus depth points from all over the lineup, and Seattle Pacific racked up 179½ points, enough to beat perennial challenger Western Washington by 20.

Since the GNAC started indoor track in 2004, Seattle Pacific has been the only school to claim the women’s crown. As expected from the outset, this one was tight: The 20-point margin matched its smallest ever. In 2006, the Falcons prevailed over Central Washington, 154-134.

“They earned it,” SPU coach Karl Lerum said. “This is just a really inspirational group. Pixler comes out and sets three meet records (both of her individual events and as part of the distance medley relay), Tash hasn’t run since last March and she sets a meet record, Peaslee is on her way and looking like herself again, and Jane Larson comes out and has a total warrior performance in the mile, 800 and DMR.”

Western Washington University's Ellie Siler had a hand in three event victories and Sarah Porter won the women's 5,000 meters in NCAA Division II national automatic qualifying time.

Siler took the 200 in the national provisional qualifying time of 25.03, a school, meet and GNAC record. She won the 400 (56.93) for the second straight year and ran the lead leg as the 4x400 quartet placed first in a meet record time of 3:55.21.

Porter won the 5,000 in a meet and school record time of 16:47.07 to lead a 1-2-3 sweep of that event for Western. Lauren Breihof was second in 17:32.30, and Courtney Olsen third in 17:43.72. Breihof improved her national provisional time and Olsen met the standard.

Jordan Welling had the top performance for the Western men, winning the 5,000 for the second time in three years in a meet record time of 14:51.53, and anchoring the victorious distance medley to a meet-record time of 10:18.80. Completing the medley were Bennett Grimes, Andrew Gray and Nick Abraham.

In all, Western won six women's events and four men's events, setting eight school records.
Other victories for the Western women were by Michelle Howe in the 60 hurdles, and Emily Warman in the long jump.

Howe won the 60 hurdles for the third straight year, having a time of 9.02 in the final after winning her preliminary in a school-record 9.00. With Howe and Siler on the victorious 4x400 relay were Sarah Brownell and Megan O'Connell.

Warman won the long jump with a mark of 18-3 3/4, and was second in the triple jump (38-4) where she is the defending national champion.

While the Falcons didn’t win the long jump, they did put together an astonishing 2-3-4-5-6-7-8 finish behind Warman. Junior Crystal Sims led that effort with a second-place finish at 17-7½.

“I didn’t see that coming,” Lerum said. “But it’s such a great crew and a fun group that I’m not surprised they did it.”

That performance gave SPU a 29-10 scoring advantage in the long jump. It was one of four events in which they scored more than 20 points. The others were the high jump (26), pole vault (24) and mile (23).

“That’s how you win championships,” Lerum said. “It makes us a tough team when we can put in big bunches of points like that.”

SPU freshman Nathan Seely came into the men’s 800 as the fourth seed with a 1:56.45. He cut that by almost two seconds and won by half a second over Western Oregon’s Mike Schmidt (1:55.38).

Complete results from the GNAC Championships can be accessed here.

Seattle Pacific hosts a NCAA Division II last chance qualifying meet next Saturday at the Dempsey Indoor, following the conclusion of the MPSF Championships.

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

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