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Kramer and Smit Claim All-America Berths in Steeplechase at NCAA III Championships

Friday, May 28, 2010

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NCAA Championships Site

BEREA, OH—The steeplechase tradition at Calvin College continues. 

On Friday night at the NCAA III Outdoor Track and Field Championships hosted by Baldwin-Wallace College, Calvin crowned an All-American in the men’s steeplechase and the women’s steeplechase as sophomore Nick Kramer (Dyer, IN/Illiana Christian HS) was fourth (9:04.28) in the men’s race and senior Elizabeth Smit (Kirkland, WA/Bellevue Christian HS) fifth (10:43.79) in the women’s race.

Kramer is the ninth individual in Calvin men’s track and field history to earn All-America plaudits in the steeplechase while Smit joins Sarah Hastings (2005) as one of two steeplechase All-Americans in Calvin women’s track and field history.

Kramer had a career-best time in finishing fourth Friday night, lopping nearly four seconds of his previous best time. It also marked just the fifth steeplechase race of Kramer’s career.

“What a great race for Nick Kramer,” said Calvin men’s distance coach Brian Diemer, a bronze medalist in the steeplechase at the 1984 Summer Olympic games. “He is still a relative rookie in this event but he ran like a seasoned veteran tonight.”

With two laps remaining, Kramer was challenging for the lead but then slipped back to fourth but recovered down the stretch to fight off a challenge for fourth place.

“Nick ran very intelligently,” said Calvin distance coach Al Hoekstra who also coaches Calvin’s distance runners. “He kept up the pace with the leaders because he has that ability and when the going got tough, he had enough left in the tank to finish strong. If he remains injury free, he has a bright bright future as a steeplechaser.”

Kramer was one of three individuals from the Calvin men’s team to compete in the steeplechase on Friday as junior Ben Van Wyk (Sussex, NJ/High Point High School) was 11th (9:23.99) and senior Aaron Goodman (Milwaukee, WI/Milwaukee Lutheran HS) 12th (9:28.34).

“Ben Van Wyk and Aaron Goodman ran great,” said Diemer. “The weather was hot but they refused to back down. I’m proud of both of those guys.”

In the women’s steeplechase, the third time was the charm for Smit in earning an All-America plaque after finishing 10th in the race at the 2008 nationals and 15th in 2009. Smit ran in the top four for the first five laps, slipped back a bit in lap six and then held on strong over the final lap for fifth place to gain the first individual All-America berth of her career. Smit also owns an All-America plaque on the indoor circuit as she was a member of Calvin’s sixth place 2009 medley relay team at the NCAA III Indoor Track and Field Championships.

“I’m really happy and a little bit relieved,” said Smit after her race on Friday. “My goal was to be an All-American and this was my last chance in the steeplechase. I really owe a lot to my coaches (Brian Diemer and Al Hoekstra) for helping me learn how to run this race. I could not have done it without them.”

Earlier this year, Smit established a Calvin record in the steeplechase with a time of 10:29.55 at the Hillsdale Gina Relays. “The steeplechase was made for Liz Smit,” said Diemer. “She is athletic and a great hurdler. She is also very driven as a competitor. When you have those qualities, you have an All-America athlete.”

Hoekstra agreed. “Liz has talent but she also has drive and determination,” he said. “She had a dream of becoming an All-American and she was not willing to let go of that dream tonight. We are all very proud of her.”

Also competing in the steeplechase for the Calvin women on Friday was junior Gretchen Braymer (Erie, PA/Collegiate Academy) who placed 15th in a time of 11:06.22. Braymer was making her second straight appearance at the national meet.

Also competing for the Calvin women on Friday but not advancing to the finals was junior Sarah Reasoner (Cambridge, MN/Cambridge-Isanti HS) in the shot put. Reasoner’s best throw was 43-9 3/4.

In the women’s 400 meters, junior Rachel Boerner (Bergenfield, NJ/Hillcrest Lutheran Academy) qualified for Saturday’s finals with the third-best time of the prelims, recording a time of 55.30. Boerner will also be the second seed in the finals of the 400 meter hurdles on Saturday.

On the men’s side, senior Kelby McClelland (Mercer, PA/Mercer Area HS) just missed a spot in Saturday’s finals in the 110 high hurdles. McClelland clocked a season-best time of 14.48 in the prelims and missed the finals by just one-hundreth of a second.

The Calvin women’s team is currently in 18th place with seven points while the Calvin men’s team is tied for 23rd with five points.

Also scheduled to compete for Calvin on Saturday are Smit in the women’s 5,000 meters and Kramer in the men’s 5,000 meters; Reasoner and junior Leigha Oberle (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS) in the women’s discus and junior Rebekah VanDyk (Bellflower, CA/Valley Christian HS) in the women’s high jump.

Brian Diemer Audio Interview

Al Hoekstra Audio Interview

Liz Smit Audio Interview

Nick Kramer Audio Interview

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