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(Geneva, Ohio) In the last 15 years, Cornerstone Track & Field Coach Rod Wortley has seen a lot of things go right and wrong. Tonight at the SPIRE Midwest Indoor Track & Field Open he saw both in the same race.
As the starter called the distance medley relay teams to the line, Wortley noticed the runners stretched across the line for the DMR exchange zone, ten meters away from the actual starting stripe. The gun sounded and the race got underway with Jill Louisignau running the 1200 meter leadoff leg - four laps around the 300 meter oval. As the leaders came around for the third time the race official moved the women waiting to run the 400 meter leg on to the track one lap too soon. Wortley and other coaches began shouting to the official who was intent on watching the handoffs. Wortley then tried to get the attention of CU's 400 runner, Lindsay Lipa, telling her to get off the track. Fortunately, Louisignau had the presence of mind to know she still had a lap to go and wove her way through the confusion, refusing to give the baton to Lipa.
At least four teams were not so lucky and handed off a lap early. Chaos ensued as the field was split into teams who needed to be disqualified and teams still racing correctly.
Louisnau completed her leg in 3:46 and Lipa covered the next 400 in 61 seconds. Julie Oosterhouse started the 800 meters not sure who she was racing against. Chasing everyone in sight she split a 2:15. Julia Contreras ran the 1600 meter anchor leg amid the confusion in a pack that included teams that were finishing a lap early. "It was hard to know when to kick because they were on the bell lap, but it didn't seem right." Contreras' 5:19 included the extra 10 meters from the misplaced starting line.
When it was all sorted out, Cornerstone took second in 12:22.78, well under the NAIA automatic qualifying standard. "We wanted to run a fast time, but after the way things started I was hoping we could get out of here with a legal time and a qualifier," said Wortley. "I've never seen anything like this.
The meet resumes with a full slate of events on Saturday.