Friday, March 12, 2010

Jessica Pixler's legendary status at Seattle Pacific continues to grow...

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico--The legend of Seattle Pacific senior Jessica Pixler (left/photo courtesy Seattle Pacific University) continues to grow.

Pixler, who could potentially be one of the top American collegiate distance runners to draw looks from agents and shoe companies come the end of May, came from third place at the start of the 1,600-meter anchor leg and passed Shippensburg’s Neely Spence with about 30 meters left as the Falcons won the 4,000-meter distance medley relay at the NCAA Division II indoor track championships.

The all Washington-bred Falcon team of senior Jane Larson (Fall City, Wash./Cedar Park Christian HS), junior Jennifer Pike (Vancouver, Wash./Skyview HS), senior Lisa Anderberg (Edmonds, Wash./Kamiak HS) and Pixler (Sammamish, Wash./Eastlake HS) won in a season-best, school record and Great Northwest Athletic Conference record time of 11 minutes, 29.88 seconds.

Shippensburg wound up second in 11:31.29.

“(Assistant coach) Erika Daligcon and I are unbelievable proud of this foursome,” SPU head coach Karl Lerum said. “It’s just huge to have three seniors get to come together one more time and get to go out together as national champions.”

This was the first time this particular unit had run together. Pixler, Larson and Anderberg were part of the team that posted an 11:32.23 at the UW Indoor Preview on Jan. 16 to earn an automatic ticket to the Albuquerque Convention Center for nationals.

Larson, leading off with the 1,200-meter leg, had the Falcons in second place behind Shippensburg with her time of 3:33.93. Pike took the baton for the 400-meter leg, clocked a 59.21 to keep the Falcons in second behind Shippensburg and just in front of Adams State. Then Anderberg ran her 800-meter leg in 2:15.39.

When Pixler took off for the final 1,600 meters, she was in third, 3.81 seconds behind Shippensburg anchor runner Neely Spence, who was her primary cross country challenger in the 2008 nationals on Spence’s home course in Pennsylvania. Adams State anchor Alicia Nelson was second, 43 hundredths of a second in front of Pixler.

Pixler caught up and passed Nelson. Then, she passed Spence with about 150 meters to go, saw Spence edge back in front briefly, then Pixler went ahead for good with about 30 meters to go. Pixler’s time was 4:41.36, five seconds faster than Spence’s 4:46.60.

Western Washington's squad of Courtney Olsen (Sr., Bellingham/Squalicum), Megan O'Connell (Jr., Sammamish/Skyline) and Rachael Johnson (Jr., Yakima/West Valley) and Sarah Porter (Jr., Hockinson) gained All-America status with a seventh place finish in the DMR, clocking 12:02.32.

The Vikings' Emily Warman (So., Sedro-Woolley) placed 11th in the women's long jump with a mark of 18-2 1/2 (5.55), and Anthony Tomsich (Sr., Fairbanks, AK/West Valley) finished sixth in his heat of the men's mile with a time of 4:18.69 and did not advance to the final.

Pixler, the three-time defending champion in the mile, won her heat of that event on Friday in 5:04.07, clearly easing off the pedal in an event she is highly favored to win. That makes her the seventh seed for Saturday’s finals. Larson finished second in her preliminary heat in 4:58.33 and will be the second seed behind Alexis Skarda of Mesa State, who had the day’s top time of 4:58.07.

SPU senior Kate Harline finished 13th in the mile with a time of 5:14.52, and failed to advance to Saturday's final.

Eight WWU athletes, led by defending NCAA D2 triple jump champ Emily Warman, will go into action Saturday, while Pixler and Larson are the remaining Falcons in the meet, with both running in the mile, where Pixler looks to add national title number four in that event.

Complete results from the NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championships can be accessed here.

NOTE: Seattle Pacific University, Western Washington University and the NCAA contributed to this report.

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