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Christiansen and Koster Garner All-America Honors in 10K at NCAA III Track and Field Championships

Thursday, May 21, 2009

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NCAA III Track and Field Championships Site

MARIETTA, OH—Battling temperatures in the mid-80’s Calvin distance runners Jed Christiansen and Jessica Koster still found a way to run to All-America finishes in the 10,000 meters on day one of the NCAA III Track and Field Championships hosted by Marietta College. In the men’s race, Christiansen finished fourth with a time of 30:59.33 while Koster took fifth with a time of 36:11.75.

A senior from Greenville, Pennsylvania, Christiansen garnered the third All-America berth of his track and field career on Thursday night including his second in the 10,000 meters. A year ago, Christiansen took fifth in the 10,000 meters. He also has a third place indoor finish in the 5K to his credit.

In Thursday’s race, Christiansen took a page out of the playbook of Kentucky Derby winner Mine that Bird as he sat in last place for the first half of the race, waiting to make his move. Midway through the race, Christiansen began to move up and with 700 meters to go, he went after pre-race favorite Willy Kaul of Wisconsin-Oshkosh who had bolted into the lead. Christiansen was unable to keep up with Kaul and was passed by two runners in the final 100 meters to finish in fourth. Kaul won the race with a time of 30:54.56 while Ricky Flynn of Lynchburg was second (30:57.71) and Brian Chenowith of Wartburg was third (30:58.62).

“Jed ran a very smart race even though the temperature was not ideal for distance racing,” said Calvin distance coach Brian Diemer. “This was really the first hot night we have had all spring to race in so it took a huge adjustment but Jed was up to the challenge. Willy Kaul is an amazing runner but Jed had the guts to go after him. It might have cost him a couple of places in the final standings but I’m proud of him for running the way he did.”

The deliberate early pace was all part of Christiansen’s race plan. “I wanted to make sure I was running efficiently,” said Christiansen. “The slow pace worked out pretty well for me early in the race. I was able to get water a couple of times and still able to see what was going on in front of me. I’m a little disappointed that I got passed in the last stretch of the race but part of that was because I decided to go after Willy Kaul.”

Christiansen was one of two Calvin runners in the men’s 10K as senior Erik Van Kampen (Elmhurst, IL) took 10th with a time of 31:35.63, just a few seconds out of eighth place and an All-American berth. “Erik ran a very good race,” said Diemer. “This was the final race of his Calvin career and he went out on a strong note. He’s been a big part of our success over the years and we will miss him next fall.”

On the women’s side, Koster was involved in a battle of survival as she jostled in a pack of four runners that kept exchanging spots between places 3-to-6. “It was a real mind game out there,” said Diemer of the women’s 10,000 meters. “Jessica was in a pack of runners that kept exchanging leads in their pack of four. It was a situation where Jessica could have been discouraged because of the heat and the competition and fallen out the back door but she refused to back down. She was tenacious and because of that she is now an All-American.”

The race was won by Lauren Philbrook of Williams with a time of 35:24.78.

According to Koster the race was draining in more ways than one. “It was very intense, particularly from a mental standpoint,” said Koster. “I kind of hung on for dear life but somehow I just kept clicking away. I’m really happy with my finish. Hopefully next year I can do even better.”

Koster is the second member of her family to earn All-America honors in track at Calvin as her holder brother Kris was an All-American in both the 10K and 5K at Calvin. “He warmed up with me tonight and it was great to have him here supporting me,” said Koster. “He’s got a fourth place national finish in the 5,000 so that just gives me something to shoot for next year.”

Calvin sophomore Rachel Boerner (Bergenfield, NJ) also advanced to Saturday’s finals in the 400 meter hurdles with a season-best time of 1:00.74. The time was the second-fastest out of the afternoon prelims.

Boerner also ran a leg on Calvin’s 4x400 meter relay team that clocked a season-best time of 3:50.23 that ranked as the seventh-fastest time of the prelims. Unfortunately the time did not advance the Knights into the final eight on Saturday as the Calvin relay team ran in the fastest heat of the night, placing fourth in the heat. By rule, the top two finishers of each heat advance to the finals on Saturday regardless of times. The top two finishing teams in the third and final heat were both slower than Calvin’s times but advanced because of place in their heat.

Also competing for the Calvin men on Thursday was sophomore Eric Michel (Naperville, IL) in the pole vault. Michel took 12th in the event with a height of 15-7 1/4. Michel actually came up with the same height as the eighth place finisher but finished in 12th on total attempts and misses throughout the competition. Michel was competing at the national meet for the first time.

Scheduled to compete for the Calvin men on Friday are senior Nate DeHaan (South Christian HS) and junior Aaron Goodman (Milwaukee, IL) in the 3,000 meter steeplechase. Scheduled to compete for the Calvin women on Friday are sophomore Sarah Reasoner (Cambridge, MN) in the discus, junior Heather Koning (Kalamazoo Christian HS) in the 400 meters and junior Elizabeth Smit (Kirkland, WA) and sophomore Gretchen Braymer (Eria, PA) in the 3,000 meter steeplechase. Senior Lauren Bergstrom (Rochester, MN) will also run in the prelims of the 800 meters.
CALVIN MEN’S 10,000 METERS ALL-AMERICANS
1991 Thad Karnehm 8th place
1992 Thad Karnehm 8th place
1995 Ray Van Arragon 2nd place
1995 Nate Lewis 7th place
1997 Nate Lewis 4th place
2001 Dan Hoekstra 8th place
2002 Joel Klooster 2nd place
2002 Dan Hoekstra 6th place
2003 Joel Klooster 8th place
2004 Matt Edwards 5th place
2004 David Haagsma 5th place
2005 Kris Koster 5th place
2005 Tim Finnegan 6th place
2006 Tim Finnegan 6th place
2008 Jed Christiansen 5th place
2009 Jed Christiansen 4th place

CALVIN WOMEN’S 10,000 METERS ALL-AMERICANS
1993 Renea Bluekamp 4th place
1994 - Renea Bluekamp 2nd place
1995 Renea Bluekamp 4th place
1995 Amy Kuipers 8th place
1996 Amy Kuipers 5th place
1998 Andrea Clark 8th place
2007 Christina Overbeck 5th place
2009 - Jessica Koster - 5th place

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