Sunday, May 29, 2011

Western's Ryan Brown and Monica Gruszecki return to top spot in NCAA D-2 podium...

TURLOCK, California--The Western Washington Vikings had two national champions Saturday - Ryan Brown (left/photo courtesy Western Washington University) in the men's pole vault and Monica Gruszecki in the women's javelin - and a second-place finish in the women's 5,000 by Sarah Porter, who won the 10,000 on Thursday.

It was the fourth national championship for Brown, who also won back-to-back indoor pole vault titles in 2010 and 2011, and the second for Gruszecki, who won the javelin as a freshman in 2007. They are the first Vikings to win multiple individual national championships.

Brown defended his national outdoor title in the pole vault by clearing a winning height of 17-1 3/4 (5.23 meters). Brown, who entered the championships as the national leader with a clearance of 17-2 3/4, then missed two attempts at 17-3 and a meet-record effort at 18-2.

"I really came into this competition confident and ready to go," said Brown. "It started raining midway through, but nothing could hold me back."

Gruszecki won her javelin title with a school-record toss of 163-6 (49.85 meters), bettering her previous best by more than six-and-a-half feet. It came on her second throw, after an opening toss of 154-0 that would have been enough to win.

"You don't feel a thing when you hit it just right," said Gruszecki. "It was almost effortless ... This has been coming all season, and this was the competition I came in the freshest for."

Behind Gruszecki were Seattle Pacific junior Brittany Aanstad, who saved her best throw of the day for last, flinging the javelin 151 feet, 1 inch, and Falcon teammate Carly Andrews, who threw a career-best 144-9 to finish second and third, respectively,

Saturday's performance moved Aanstad up two places from her fourth-place finish in 2010. It also made her an All-American for the second straight year. Andrews earned her first All-American honor.

Porter, who almost didn't get to compete in the championships due to an question about her participation in a road race that awarded prize money, led for much of the race in the women's 5,000, but was passed just before the bell lap by Neely Spence of Shippensburg, Pa., who pulled away to win for the second straight year in 16:17.30. Porter was well ahead of the rest of the field at 16:23.08.

The Western women tied for sixth in the final team standings with 29.5 points, their best ever placing in the NCAA II outdoor meet,

Seattle Pacific finished in a tie for 15th with 17 points.

The Western men's squad finished 28th with Ryan Brown's 10 points.

Abilene Christian won the men's team title with 68 points, while Grand Valley State took the women's team title with 82.5 points.

Complete results of the NCAA Division II championships are available here.

DIVISION III RECAP

In Delaware, Ohio, Whitworth's Carter Comito won the NCAA Division III title in the men's discus, spinning the platter 182-2 (55.52m) on the campus of Ohio Wesleyan University.

Comito's win was dramatic, as he needed a throw of 166-5 (50.73m) after two straight fouls just to make the finals.

With his win, Whitworth's men finished tied for 21st place in the final standings with 12 points. North Central (Ill.) edged Wisconsin-La Crosse 58-56 to win the national title.

Senior Elizabeth Mattila from Ferndale went after the 400 meter hurdles with an intent to win. Running out of lane seven she was in second place with 80 meters to go, but had minor trouble on the final hurdle. That was enough for other runners to overtake her at the end. She still broke her own school record in a time of 1:01.09 and finished in sixth place to earn the second All-America honor of her career.

The Pirate women finished in 28th place with nine points. Wisconsin-Oshkosh rolled to an easy team championship with 80 points, easily outdistancing runner-up Wartburg's 59 points.

Whitworth's complete release is available here.

AROUND THE NCAA--In the NCAA Division I East Regional Preliminary Round, contested in Bloomington, Indiana on the campus of Indiana University, former University of Washington standout Kendra Schaaf (left/photo by Mike Scott), competing in her first full collegiate outdoor track season, qualified for the NCAA championships in the 5000 meter run.

Schaaf, now competing for the University of North Carolina, had the second fastest time out of the East regionals, clocking 16:15.37.

Two days earlier, Schaaf missed qualifying in the 10000 meter run after getting tangled up in the latter stages of the race.

NOTE: The sports information office at Western Washington, Seattle Pacific and Whitworth University contributed to this report.

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