Nicole Michmerhuizen Takes National Runner-Up Spot in 5K at NCAA III Indoor T & F Nationals
Saturday, March 09, 2013
NAPERVILLE, IL - Calvin junior Nicole Michmerhuizen ran the race of her life Saturday afternoon, earning a national runner-up finish in the 5,000 meters at the NCAA III Indoor Track and Field Championships at North Central College.
The Holland Christian High School graduate took second place with a career-best (indoor) 5,000 meter time of 16:57.67. Michmerhuizen made a serious bid for the win as she grabbed first place in the third lap of the race and held the lead until the final 20 meters as pre-race favorite Christy Cazzola of Wisconsin-Oshkosh put on a furious sprint to outlean Michmerhuizen at the finish line, winning with a time of 16:57.58.
The second place finish by Michmerhuizen allowed Calvin to earn eight points and finish tied for 23rd in the final team standings.
The finish was also a sweet one for Michmerhuizen as she had missed All-America bids this past fall at the NCAA III Cross Country Championships and at the NCAA III Outdoor Track and Field Championships last spring in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters.
“It feels good,” said Michmerhuizen. “I wanted this (type of race) for a long time. It was nice to have a race at nationals go right for once and I have to credit my coaches and all of my teammates and fans who came and supported me today. I feel very blessed to have this experience and this kind of opportunity.”
The early tactical moves by Michmerhuizen were a key said the Calvin coaching staff.
“Nicole ran a brilliant race,” said Calvin co-distance coach Al Hoekstra. “We told her that if the early pace was slow, that she should push forward and run at a pace that she was capable of running. She doesn’t have as good of a finishing kick as some of the other runners so it was important for her to get out in front and she followed the game-plan perfectly.”
Hoekstra also gave Michmerhuizen high marks for her finish. “What I am most proud about is that Nicole did not quit even when she was passed with 20 meters to go,” said Hoekstra. “She came back with a little surge and almost caught Cazzola at the end and Cazolla is probably one of the top five or six distance runners in Division III (women’s) history. Nicole will have no regrets whatsoever when she looks back on this race. She did everything she could do to give herself a chance to win.”
Brian Diemer stated that Michmerhuizen made a name for herself with her performance.
“Nicole made a name for herself nationally today,” said Diemer who serves as co-coach with Hoekstra. “There were so many people in attendance who came up to me and said how impressed with how gutsy a race she ran. We are all so proud of her.”
The All-America berth is the first for Michmerhuizen and is the first by a female Calvin distance runner at the indoor national meet. She entered Saturday’s race seeded fourth.