PUEBLO, Colorado--Seattle Pacific's Ali Worthen (left/photo courtesy Seattle Pacific University) ended day 1 of the NCAA Division II heptathlon in a strong third place, as the redshirt senior from Coos Bay, Oregon scored 3226 points in the first four events of the two day competition at the Neta & Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl, as the NCAA D2 track and field championships opened up.
The pre-meet favorite and season-long D-2 leader trails only Academy of Art senior Jesseka Raymond (3,292) and Ashland senior Kendra Bassitt (3,248) heading into Friday.
Central Missouri junior Zoe Sharplin is close back in fourth (3,221). Sophomore Jordan Gray of Angelo State (Texas), who has been No. 2 behind Worthen all spring, is fifth with 3,197.
Worthen, thinking about where her day might rate on the 10 scale, hesitated a moment, then replied, “To be honest, I feel … well, I'd probably say a 6 or 7. I'm happy about my PRs in the 100 hurdles and the shot put, obviously. But I'm upset with how I was doing I the high jump and the 200.”
SPU teammate Katy Gross finished the day in 13th position with a first day score of 2927 points.
In the 100 hurdles, Worthen ran 14.08, a personal best and worth 967 points. She then high jumped 5-5 1/4 (1.66m) to score 806. She then threw the shot 36-0 3/4 (10.99m) to score 594 points, then ran 25.31 in the 200 for 859 points.
In the high jump, Worthen, who cleared 5-7 1/4 (1.71m) in Sacramento in April, complained of pain in her take-off leg. “We knew it was going to be painful,” Worthen said. “There's only so much mental preparation you can do with that amount of pain.”
Gross opened by running 14.66 in the hurdles for 887 points, then jumped 5-3 (1.60m) for 736 points. In the shot, she threw 34-3 1/2 (10.45m) for 559 points, then ran the 200 in 26.60 for 745 points.
Both Worthen and Gross have their strong events coming up on Friday, with Worthen the reigning GNAC long jump champ, while Gross is also qualified for Saturday's javelin competition.
In the women's 1500, Falcon freshman Lynelle Decker ran 4:49.03 and did not advance to the finals.
In the men's 1500, SPU senior Seth Pierson ran 4:06.52, and did not advance to the finals.
Besides Worthen and Gross finishing up the heptathlon, McKayla Fricker is in action in the 800 semis, along with the Falcon 4 x 400 relay, consisting of Fricker, Kishia Mitchell, Emily Quatier, and Jasmine Johnson.
NOTE: The sports information office at Seattle Pacific University contributed to this report.