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(Geneva, Ohio) The final day of the NAIA Indoor Track & Field Championships was a great day for Cornerstone University. On the strength of three more top five finishes the CU women ended the meet with their best finish and most points in program history.
Anita Souza got things going in the 60 meter hurdle finals. Starting next to the top seed, Breanna Leslie of Azusa Pacific, Souza got out well then by the second hurdle was clear of everyone but Leslie. Breanna got the win in 8.47 with Anita second in 8.63. The freshman from Varginha , Brazil becomes the fourth Cornerstone woman to achieve indoor national runner-up status.
Less than an hour later, freshman Julie Oosterhouse stepped to the line in the 800 meter final. Just as she did in the semi-final, Julie ran patiently at the back of the pack through 200 meters in 32.3 then joined the group as they passed through 400 meters in 1:05. With 200 meters remaining the group spread out and Oosterhouse moved up to fifth and held that spot to the finish. Her time of 2:13.65 was almost two seconds faster than her school record set the day before and earned her All-America honors.
Jill Louisignau finished better than her seeding in the 3,000 meters placing 13th in 10:46.96.
Cornerstone's final event of the meet, the Distance Medley Relay proved to be the most exciting. The Golden Eagles had the slowest time advancing from Thursday's semi-final. "On paper it didn't look like we could finish better than seventh," said coach Rod Wortley. "But many of the teams ahead of us would have key people running their third or fourth races of the meet." Senior, Lauren Pierce said, "We really wanted to finish in the top six. That was our goal and the plan was to put ourselves in a position to do that and see what would happen."
Audry Yonge led off, covering the 1200 meter opening leg in 3:47 before passing to Pierce in fourth. Lauren maintained that spot running 58.2 in the final race of her indoor track career. Oosterhouse managed a 2:17 800 meter leg, moving into third before giving the baton to Julia Contreras. The junior from Fowler, MI ran aggressively with Jessica Weborg of Morningside, who finished second in the mile shadowing her through 800 meters. With 600 meters to go, Weborg moved past Contreras. "I knew she was there and I was letting her push me for as long as I could," said Contreras. "When she went by, I told myself that I wasn't going to let anyone else past." As the cost of the hard early pace set in, Contreras' stride shortened. She adjusted by increasing her arm drive heading into the bell lap with 300 meters remaining. Halfway down the backstretch, Lauren Moran, Concordia University of Oregon's sub 5:00 miler was giving chase and making up ground from 40 meters back. Contreras pulled out of the final turn clearly struggling but, determined to hold form. Moran continued to gain ground quickly and but came up two steps short as Julia reached the finish in 12:14.28 to Concordia's 12:14.97.
Cornerstone's fourth place finish meant All-America plaques and five more points giving the Golden Eagles a total of 27 which was good for eighth place.