Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Falcons go 1 through 4 in GNAC heptathlon; Johnson wins decathlon to complete sweep...

NAMPA, Idaho--The little school on the bottom of Queen Anne hill is becoming the multi-event center of the Northwest.

The Falcons, led by junior Ali Worthen's winning total of 4904 points (center, with Crystal Sims on left & Katy Gross on right/photo courtesy Seattle Pacific), pulled off an unprecedented 1-2-3-4 finish in the heptathlon competition at the Great Northwest Athletic Conference championships in Nampa.

Katy Gross took the runner-up position with a final score of 4799 points, while defending GNAC champ Crystal Sims was third with 4718 points.

Teammate Jennifer Pike was fourth at 4535 points, while Western Washington's Brooklyn Holton was twelfth with 3641. Siri Berg of Central Washington was one place back at 3433 points, while Wildcat teammate Melanie Davis was 17th at 3244 points.

Worthen started day two by setting a conference record in the hep long jump of 18-8 (5.69m) worth 756 points.

Pike, who began the day in sixth place, stormed her way to fourth place by winning both the javelin (116-6/35.50m, 581 pts.) and the 800 (2:24.84, 739 pts.).

All four totals surpassed the 4,400 points needed to get a place on the provisional qualifying list for the NCAA Division II championships, set for May 26-28 at Cal State Stanislaus University in Turlock, Calif.  Sims already ranked No. 2 in the country with the 4,933 she scored at last month's Mount SAC Relays, and Worthen was already No. 3 with her 4,922 points from the California Invitational heptathlon.

All of the individual accomplishments also gave the Falcons a strong boost toward what they hope will be a second straight team championship. The 1-2-3-4 finish added up to 29 points (10-8-6-5).

Commenting afterwards, SPU coach Karl Lerum said, "That was our plan going in, but things had to fall into place.They had some real nice PR performances, but like all multis, they had some valleys as well. But they just kept a positive focus for two days."

Worthen said, "It was definitely a goal that we all had in mind and we were all working toward it. So it was exciting for all four of us to be there and to push each other and encourage each other."

For the Falcons, the hits didn't stop with the heptathlon, as Nate Johnson, a native of nearby Boise, won the discus, and finished third in three other events, helping him pile up a lifetime-best total of 6,373 points to beat out second-place Jason Caryl of Central Washington, who had 6,234. Johnson started the day in sixth place with 3,159 points, but was just 101 points out of a spot in the top three.

Johnson became the first Seattle Pacific athlete to win a GNAC decathlon title. Former Falcon star Chris Randolph, while he didn't win a conference crown, did win back-to-back NCAA decathlon championships in 2005 and 2006. Randolph owns the SPU record with 7,872 points.

Johnson's win made it a sweep of the GNAC multi-event titles this year, as he won the indoor heptathlon title in February.

After scoring a PR in the 110 hurdles of 15.75, he took the discus with a toss of 120-5 (36.70m), worth 598 points.

He took the lead for good in the pole vault, clearing 14-3.25 (4.35m), worth 716 points.

Johnson finished second in the javelin (151-2, 46.09m/531 pts) behind Central Washington's Brandon Roddewig (157-3, 47.93m/558 pts), who was making a run of his own.

Johnson finished seventh in the 1500, running 4:51.79, worth 608 points.

Caryl finished second behind Johnson with a final score of 6234, while Roddewig was third with 6225 points.

Western Washington's Tim Clendaniel was sixth at 5905, Scott Hunter of Central was seventh at 5728. Teammate Thomas Steinke was tenth at 5477, while the Wildcats' Andrew Venema was eleventh at 5442. Michael Stralser of Western was twelfth at 5241, and Derek Hartwigsen of the Vikings was 16th at 4914.

Complete results from the GNAC multi event competition are available through the GNAC web site.

NOTE: Seattle Pacific, Western Washington, Central Washington, and the Great Northwest Athletic Conference contributed to this report.

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