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(Johnson City, Tenn.) The opening day of the 2010 NAIA Indoor Track & Field National Championships was productive and challenging for the Cornerstone men.
In the 5,000 meter semi-finals, Zach Ripley and Alex Green worked together, at or near the front of the pack in the first heat. In the final laps the top four pulled ahead leaving the two Golden Eagles in a dangerous position. The top four finishers qualify automatically for Saturday's final. The next four fastest times from the two heats would also advance; however, the runners in the second heat hold the advantage of knowing exactly how fast to run to advance on time. Ripley used is devastating kick to erase the five second gap. His time of 15:01.46 was just .26 away from first place, but not in the top four. Green hit the finish in 15:05.26 in sixth then had to wait for the second heat to learn if he would advance. Sure enough, the second heat was faster, won in 14:57.34, but only fifth and sixth place were faster than Zach and Alex, putting both in Friday's final. Stephan Larson finished fifteenth in the second heat, running 15:27.53.
The relay semi-finals proved to be challenging. The distance medley relay seemed in good position to advance to the finals, until it was discovered that freshman Jared Courtright had pneumonia, after the final roster deadline had come and gone. Freshman, Jeff Burd was moved from the 4 x 400 relay to cover the 1200 meter lead off leg of the distance medley. Burd put in a credible 3:15 but it wasn't enough to keep the Golden Eagles in contention. After Jacob Erickson and Zach Yeo did what they could, Ripley could do no more than finish. Cornerstone placed 23rd in 10:41.53. With three of the usual 4 x 400 meter squad committed to the DMR, Kurtis Koffkey, Adam Duerksen, and John Klumpp did what they could before giving the baton to Jared. Their time of 3:33.30 placed 23rd.
"This certainly wasn't an ideal situation either way," said coach Rod Wortley. "While, it wasn't a pleasant experience, it was still nationals experience. The four freshmen and two sophomores who ran will ultimately benefit in the years to come. I expect , and I know they all expect to be back here again."