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(Geneva, Ohio) On the opening day of the NAIA Indoor Track & Field National Championships, Cornerstone sophomore, Brittany Green earned All-America honors in the Pentathlon, setting the tone for her teammates to follow.
After a solid 9.29 in the 60 meter hurdles, Green cleared a personal best 4' 11.5" in the high jump. Her score of 1482 after two events put her in sixth. In the shot put, Brittany's first attempted measured 40' 7.75" which was nearly five feet longer than the next best competitor. The 697 points moved her into third. Green's best event, the long jump, followed. "There are three women here who have jumped over 18' this season, but for some reason only one of them got past 17' 2" today," said coach Paul Koutz. Green managed 17' .75" and held her position taking fourth as just three inches separated second and fifth. That left the 800 meter run. Not her strongest event, Green finished eighth in the field of sixteen, taking .28 off her best time with a 2:35.00 clocking. Pre-meet favorite Briana Vander Woude of Dordt won, totaling 3751 for the five events followed by Jillian Ourada of Doane with 3638 and Green with 3415.
The day concluded with the relay semifinals. Cornerstone qualified all three – the 4 x 800, 4 x 400 and the distance medley. Sadly, a death in the family of sophomore, Julie Oosterhouse left a huge hole in the Golden Eagle's plans. "With Julie, we would have a pretty easy time getting the distance medley through to the finals and take a good shot at the 4 x 400," said coach Rod Wortley.
In 2012, the DMR finished fourth at nationals. With 800 meter All-American Oosterhouse and anchor leg, Julia Contreras returning, the goal was to contend for the top spot this year. Freshman, Audrey Tremaine left the 4 x800 to take Oosterhouse's spot and Larissa Hampton moved over from the 4 x 400 relay to add experience on the 400 meter leg. "On paper, we look to be over ten seconds slower, but ultimately, it's always about finding a way and we've done that before," said Wortley.
The 4 x 800 meter team scratched and the 4 x 400 went badly after Lindsay Lipa's leadoff split of 58.8. Freshman, Kaitlyn Bronkema slammed into Westmont's incoming runner after the first exchange. The baton clattered to the track leaving the freshman standing for an eternal instant looking for the gold cylinder. Running alone the rest of the way Lyndee Sayers and Anita Souza finished the race for CU as the Golden Eagles took fifth in their heat in 4:03.52.
That left the DMR squad of Jill Louignau, Hampton, Tremaine and Julia Contreras to salvage the evening with something good. Running in the third of three heats, the women needed to finish first or second or run one of the next two fastest times of all the teams finishing third or worse. The first heat was slow, with third place running only 12:28.28. The second heat was very fast with the top three teams all running 12:04. "We saw the times from that heat and coach was holding up one or two fingers," said Contreras. "Without Julie there's no we could run 12:04, so it had to be top two."
Louisignau got through the 1200 meter lead off leg in 3:45 passing to Hampton in the middle of the lead pack. Larissa's 58.9 for 400 meters put the Golden Eagles third. Tremaine executed the exchange perfectly, taking the baton as late as possible to Hampton ten extra meters at 400 pace. "Audrey is not an 800 meter specialist, but she did a great job holding the gap Larissa built," said Wortley. After a 2:25 split, Contreras took over for the 1600 meters. Carroll College and Embry-Riddle were together at the front over ten seconds ahead. "We knew Carroll would be in front, and we hoped they would push the pace, because we knew we should have a good size gap back to third," said Wortley. "The plan was for Julia to maintain that separation, but first she had to get into second." Knowing the Embry-Riddle anchor was not a strong miler, Contreras made up six seconds in the first 300 meter lap, then moved into second 200 meters later. From there she looked smooth and relaxed, expanding the gap back to third to seven seconds. "With 400 meters to go she still had a five second lead on third and that's a huge chunk of time to make up," said Wortley. That did stop Rachel Dean, a 5:06 miler from St. Xavier from taking a shot. With 200 meters to go Dean was charging had and had the gap down to three seconds. Coming off the curve with 100 meters left, Contreras snuck a look then drove for home. Dean kept getting closer, but finally ran out of space. Contreras' 5:10 split sealed second in 12:19.19 with St. Xavier third in 12:20.76.
Within in minutes, the women were on the phone with Oosterhouse, sharing the celebration. "All week, these women wished they could be back home with Julie, because being there for her at this time means more than whatever happens at a track meet," said Wortley. "Since they couldn't do that, they honored her with their effort tonight. We train hard and we prepare well to race, but sometimes it's character that makes the difference. Tonight was one of those times."