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(Marion, Ind.) The first day of the NAIA Outdoor Track & Field National Championships stayed overcast and gloomy most of the time with brief periods of light rain. None of that seemed to bother CU's Anita Souza as she charged through the first four events of the heptathlon ending the day in second place.
The sophomore from Brazil dominated the field of 16 women in the first event, running nearly one half second faster than everyone else in the 100 meter hurdles. Her 14.21 was a season best and worth 949 points. After clearing 4' 11 ¾" in the high jump, Souza extended her best in the shot put to 31' 6" and ended the day with the second fastest time in the 200 meters, running 25.39. Her 2947 points put her second to Briana Vander Woude of Dort.
Teammate Brittany Green totaled 2725 points with her 15.70 clocking in the 100 meter hurdles, 4' 10 ½" effort in the high jump and 27.21 for 200 meters. Just as she did at the NAIA Indoor Championships in the pentathlon, Green led the field in the shot put. Her 40' 2 ¾" effort on her second attempt was nearly two feet better than Vander Woude's next best mark.
In the 4 x 800 meter relay semi-finals, Jill Louisignau, Audrey Tremaine, Julie Oosterhouse and Julia Contreras combined to finish second in their heat, advancing to Friday's final. Oosterhouse ran 2:13 on the third leg to bring the Golden Eagles from fourth to second and Contreras ran a smart, tactical anchor leg, bringing the baton to the finish in 9:25.38. Times for all three semi-final heats were slowed by a cold wind blowing up the backstretch and occasional drizzle.
One hour later, Louisignau lined up for the 3000 meter steeplechase semi-final. Needing only to finish in the top five in her heat, the junior from Benzonia raced patiently through the early laps then moved to the back of the lead group when the field strung out after four laps. "That was a tough double and a bit risky," said Wortley. "Jill really wanted to make sure the 4 x 8 made the final but we didn't want that to hurt her chances in the steeplechase. She's not only very fit, but very tough. She ran a smart race and the cold, windy conditions were actually better than most of the meets we ran in this season, so that helped."
The competition resumes Friday with Cornerstone women competing in the heptathlon, 800 meter and 100 meter hurdle semi-finals and 4 x 800 meter relay finals.