(Geneva, Ohio) The final event for Cornerstone at the NAIA Indoor Track & Field Championships looked to put a bittersweet ending on the three day competition. Running without All-American 800 meter runner, Julie Oosterhouse, the distance medley barely made the final and on paper didn't appear to be able to finish better than last. Coming off last season's fourth place finish at nationals, expectations were much higher.
"I was more nervous even though there was no expectation," said lead off leg, Jill Louisignau. "I didn't expect anything. We were going to try for better than last, but I wasn't confident, as confident as I should be." Oosterhouse was back in Grand Rapids due to a death in the family. "It took a lot to cope with being 11 seconds slower in the 800 without her," Louisignau said. Senior anchor leg, Julia Contreras agreed, "It was hard without Julie here. It gives me confidence to step up to the line, knowing I can count on her completely."
Nevertheless, the women were determined to find out what their best effort would produce. Louisignau started with the same pace as the semifinal for 600 meters then moved from the back of the pack to third, splitting 3:43. "I was more determined to get closer to the front so Audrey would have as little work to do as possible," Louisignau said. Larissa Hampton ran a full second faster on the 400 meter leg running 57.8 and passing off to Audrey Tremaine. "I knew people were going to pass me so I tried to lock on and pass toward the end," the freshman said. Even though she ran three seconds faster than she did in the semi's Tremaine's 2:22 split for 800 meters put CU at the back of the line, leaving it up to Contreras. The senior captain ran the first lap one second faster than she did Thursday night, but was still in last place. Coach Rod Wortley turned to CU men's distance coach, Nate Van Holten and said, "We're in a great spot." Contreras looked smooth, patient and under control. "The way the pack was strung out in front of her gave her the perfect opportunity to run smart and move up one place at a time," Wortley said. Contreras reached sixth place with three laps to go then held on to that spot. In the final 200 meters, Miranda Dent of Oklahoma Baptist put on a late charge, reaching Julia's shoulder with 80 meters to go. "Jill and Audrey were yelling from the infield that she was coming," Contreras said. "I didn't see her until she caught me, then I just reacted. There was no way anyone was going to beat me to the line at that point, I couldn't let that happen." Julia concluded her indoor collegiate career with her fastest 1600 split, 5:08, giving CU sixth place in 12:12.51. "I thought I ran 5:15," said Contreras. "Then Jill told me we broke the school record, I just lost it right there on the infield. We weren't expected to do anything without Julie. It was important to honor her with this."
Earlier in the day, Anita Souza raced the 60 meter hurdle final. In a blanket finish with just 3/100ths of a second separating fourth from seventh, Souza tied with Cyna Calloway of Wayland Baptist in 8.83. A check of the finish photo showed Calloway 2/1000th of a second ahead giving Souza two points for seventh.
In the triple jump, Lindsay Lipa came within an inch or best, placing twelfth at 36' 6.75".
Oklahoma Baptist won the team title with 86.5 points. WHAC rivals, Indiana Tech finished second with 87 points, Siena Heights tenth with 21 and Cornerstone tied for 17th with 16 points.