(Geneva, Ohio) The final day of the NAIA Indoor Track & Field Championships was the best in Cornerstone history as the Golden Eagles flew to a top ten in the team standings on the strength of second place finishes in the mile and 400 meters along with points from two relays.
In the first event of the day, Louis Falland made is bid to win the mile. After a pedestrian 70 seconds for the first 400 meters and an equally slow 800 meter split of 2:13, the pace dropped to :60 for the next 400 with five men still in contention. With 200 meters remaining Falland got a bit of a jostle on the backstretch, then forced his way into the open and away from trouble. Coming off the last turn, Adam Godwin of Oklahoma Baptist, the 2012 defending champion was building a slight lead while Falland moved into lane two to get around Derrick Williams of Carroll College. Pushing all the way to the line, Falland came up just short as Godwin got the win in 4:10.84 to Falland's 4:12.18. Louis covered the last 400 meter in :58 and 1:58 for the second half. "That was as good a race as he could ask for," said CU Coach Rod Wortley. "To get second in his first mile final to someone who has won before is impressive."
Next up, Ryan Versen joined five other WHAC runners in the 400 meter final. Starting in lane three, the junior was in a tough position at the cut in line on the backstretch. "I tried to pick it up just enough so I wouldn't get boxed in," Versen said." I was on the rail going into the last turn thinking about when to make my moved to get around, when the Indiana Tech guys fell." Austin Barnes and Dareyus Person tumbled to the track forcing Ryan to hurdle one of them and stayed on the rail through the rest of the turn. The fall split the field and Versen found himself on the homestretch with Doug Dawson of Siena Heights and Robert Rose of Indiana Tech. "I swung wide and got Rose and then I was just trying to work my arms as much as possible to catch Doug. The senior from Siena ended his indoor career with the win, running 47.80. Versen lowered his school record to 47.99 for second. "I race these guys all the time and we take turns beating each other, but I really wanted to do well on the big stage," Versen said. "This is my first time breaking 48 and I'm more happy with the time than the place." Ryan pondered running 47.99 and being national runner up then said, "Well, not really."
Two and one half hours later, Versen geared up for another 400 meters, running the second leg of the distance medley final. Zach Bourdon led off splitting 3:09 for the 1200 meters and Ryan put in a 48.0 effort but couldn't bring Cornerstone into the pack. Zach Yeo's 1:58 for 800 meters didn't gain any ground either and Falland finished off with a 4:22 for eighth in 10:18.28. Southern Oregon's 9:48.16 broke the meet record as three teams went under 10 minutes.
That left one more race. Versen and Yeo grabbed what little recover they could before reporting for the 4 x 400 meter relay thirty minutes after the DMR. Versen went to his exchange zone and propped himself against the wall. "I got my heart rate down, then stood up and tried to get pumped up because the race was starting," Versen said. Eric Schroeder put in a great 49.3 out of the blocks and Spencer Perry followed with a 49.1. Somehow Ryan pulled out a 48.6 on his sixth race in three days. Yeo, clearly feeling the effects of the 800 meters got the baton to the finish in 3:17.36 in seventh place giving the Golden Eagles two more points.
Oklahoma Baptist won the team title with 86.5 points Indiana Tech took third with 68, Seina Heights was fourth with 40, Aquinas eighth with 31 and Cornerstone tied for ninth with 26. "This was our highest finish and highest point total at indoor nationals," said Wortley. "For the WHAC to have four teams in the top nine demonstrates we have the most competitive conference in the NAIA."