Boerner Does It Again! - Women’s Track 8th at NCAA Indoor III Championships / Men Place 11th
Saturday, March 12, 2011
COLUMBUS, OH - A fabulous foursome of track and field athletes packed a powerful punch for the Calvin men’s and women’s track and field teams Saturday at the NCAA III Indoor Track and Field Championships at Capital University.
Behind a national championship finish by senior Rachel Boerner in the 400 meters and a national runner-up performance by senior Sarah Reasoner in the shot put, the Calvin women’s team finished in eighth place with 18 points, marking Calvin’s second top 10 national finish in three years at the NCAA III Indoor Track and Field Championships. On the men’s side, Calvin used a national runner-up finish by sophomore Greg Whittle in the mile run and a fourth place finish by junior Nick Kramer in the 5,000 meters to finish tied for 12th place with 13 points.
Boerner (Bergenfield, NJ/Hillcrest Lutheran Academy) highlighted the day for the Knights as as she defended her national title in the 400 meters indoors. Boerner entered Saturday’s race seeded fifth out of the prelims but used an aggressive strategy to gain the win as she ripped off a blistering 39.0 second split over the first 300 meters, forcing the field to go with her. Heading down the final stretch, Boerner received one final challenge from top seed Nevada Morrison of Wartburg College but Boerner was up to the task with a powerful finish, winning with a time of 55.75, two-tenths of a second ahead of her winning time of 55.95 from a year ago. Ruby Blackwell of Methodist finished in second (55.89) while Morrison was third (56.18).
“Running a 400 indoors takes a lot of strategy,” said Calvin head track and field coach Bret Otte. “Today Rachel recognized and reacted in perfect fashion. She used the strategy of a fast start to her advantage and had enough in the tank at the end to win.”
The national title is the fourth of Boerner’s collegiate career as she also owns national titles in the 400 meter (open) dash and 400 meter hurdles outdoors. She has now earned All-America accolades three times indoors and four times outdoors.
“Rachel has put together a pretty remarkable collegiate career,” said Otte. “We are all very proud of her for the way she represents Calvin College.”
Reasoner (Cambridge, MN/Cambridge-Isanti HS) meanwhile earned a national runner-up finish in the shot put for the second straight year. Reasoner tossed a career-best throw of 48-4 1/2 in taking second place. Top seed Holly Ozanich of Wisconsin-Oshkosh won the competition with a throw of 50-1 3/4. Reasonerís throw of 48-4 1/2 was a career-best effort by more than two feet and came on her first flight of tosses. Reasonerís previous career-best had been 46-4. On Saturday, she eclipsed her previous best on all six throws with three throws eclipsing 47 feet.
“Sarah was going up against some real cannon throwers today,” said Otte. “She came in seeded fourth but she also came in ready to compete right from the start. When she cranked out a 48-foot throw on her first attempt it set the tone for the rest of the shot put competition. Everyone else had to step up, compete and react to her. She had a terrific series of throws and we are all thrilled to see her do what she did today.”
Reasoner has now garnered All-America accolades four times - twice in the shot put indoors, once in the shot put outdoors and once in the discus outdoors.
On the men’s side, Whittle (Galesburg, IL/Galesburg HS) had a monster performance in the mile run, placing second with a time of 4:15.06 after entering the race seeded eighth. The race had a slow and methodical pace early on as the 10 competitors jostled for position to make a break over the final two-and-a-half laps. With 500 meters to go, Whittle found himself boxed in behind a big group of runners but as two runners slid outside to make a pass, the inside lane opened for a brief second and like a savvy NASCAR driver, Whittle burst through the gap before it closed. Whittle’s burst out of his boxed position allowed him to move into second place. Whittle continued his surge, closing on the top spot before finishing second, less than a second behind winner Nick Guarino of Fredonia State of New York (4:14.23).
“Greg’s move with 500 meters was amazing,” said Otte. “I wasn’t sure how he would get out of that box but all of a sudden, that inside lane opened up just enough and he was smart enough to take advantage. This was Greg’s first-ever appearance at a national meet and for him to finish in second place is simply incredible. When he finished second, I was at a complete loss for words because of the amazing way he ran that race.”
Last but not least for Calvin was junior Nick Kramer (Dyer, IN/Illiana Christian HS) in the men’s 5,000 meters who was up to the challenge for a race that featured a lightning quick pace. Battling a fierce group of competitors, Kramer fought his way into a pack fighting for third place. The final 100 meters included a sprint to the finish line with Kramer fighting off one competitor for fourth place (14:29.59) by three-tenths of a second while finishing less than two-tenths of a second out of third place. Mike Spain of North Central won the race in a time of 14:17.42.
“There was a lost of jostling and change in tempo in the men’s 5,000 meters,” said Otte. “Nick is not one to back down and he went for it tonight and ran a courageous race. He fought to the final finish and came up with yet another All-America finish. It was an exciting way to end the meet for our team.”
Kramer’s fourth place finish marked his first All-America berth indoors and the fourth of Calvin running career. Kramer was an All-American this past fall in cross country and also owns All-America finishes outdoors in both the 3,000 meter steeplechase and 5,000 meters.
According to Otte, a huge key for the Calvin athletes was the encouragement received from over 30 Calvin track and field athletes that traveled down to Columbus on their own to root on their teammates. “While our performances were noteworthy today, the thing that stuck with me was that we had over 30 of our athletes come down to shout for our school,” said Otte. “That’s team. That’s community. The goal in our track and field program is to pick each other up and celebrate with one another when we accomplish things. I’m proud of our athletes who competed this weekend and I’m proud of the way the rest of their teammates supported them this weekend. It’s a real nice momentum booster for our program heading into the outdoor season.”
North Central College captured the men’s indoor national title with 45 points, finishing one point ahead of Central College (IA). Wisconsin-Oshkosh won the women’s title with 46.5 points with Wartburg second with 44 points.
Calvin’s eighth place finish in the women’s final team standings is the program’s highest finish at the NCAA III Indoor Track and Field Championships.