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(Allendale, Mich.) The Grand Valley State University "Big Meet" turned out to be exactly that with over 1700 athletes participating and schools from California, Florida, Colorado, Iowa, as well as three teams from the Big Ten Conference. Cornerstone had a big weekend too, putting up sixteen personal bests, three school records, one freshman record and ten national qualifying performances.
On Friday night, Kelly Peterson and Kayla Wilson took turns attacking the school record in the 600 meters. In the first heat, Peterson ran 1:37.51, taking .39 off the record she set one week ago at Taylor. In the second heat, Wilson also broke the old mark, but came up just short of Peterson's time, clocking 1:37.56. Julia Contreras also ran a PR of 1:41.62.
The highlight of the evening was the invitational section of the women's mile. Andi Ripley entered the race looking to break Erin Clason's school record of 5:05.45 from 2001. Needing to average 56.9 seconds per 300 meter lap, Ripley came through the first lap in the middle of the pack in 56.8. The second and third laps slowed to 57.8 and 57.3 as no one wanted to set the pace. Ripley took over the pace making chores on the fourth circuit, clocking 55.7 with the rest of the field lining up behind her. A 56 for the fifth lap put her right on pace and her finishing sprint brought her to the line in 5:04.24, erasing the longstanding mark by the venerable ten-time All-American.
In the pole vault, both Brandi Hagan and Amy Boyer were a bit under the weather, but that didn't prevent either of them from going over 11' 6" which is three inches over the NAIA automatic qualifying height.
Saturday morning began with a trio of CU women racing the 5,000 meters. Janelle Lindman improved her PR and NAIA provisional status taking third in her heat in 18:34.55. Four spots back, Nicki Erler was just seven seconds off her best in 19:17.71. Three places behind her, Audry Yonge demolished Erler's freshman record of 19:43.49 from 2007, running 19:25.26 in her debut at the 5k distance.
On the sprint side of the schedule Boyer was just .01 off her best, running a provisional 9.27 in the 60 meter hurdles. Lauren Pierce lowered her best in the 60 meter dash to 8.44 and Becky Boblett ran a PR 27.68 in the 200 meter dash.
Ripley returned to pace freshman teammate Julia Contreras in the 800 meters, but wound up abandoning the task after 400 meters en route to a school record and NAIA provisional time of 2:18.84. The old mark of 2:20.17 was set in 2005 by Shannon Bambach. Contreras wound up racing teammate Janey Sluka with both running personal best times, the senior prevailing 2:24.75 to 2:24.83. In the following heat, Boyer lowered her best to 2:27.40.
In the triple jump, Kay-De Vaughn improved her status on the NAIA list two inches with a season best 37' 5.25" effort.
Melissa Sawicki lowered her mile best to 5:21.92 before racing to an 11:01.58 PR in the 3,000 meters. Sluka doubled off the 800 and finished the 3k with a new best time of 11:08.63.
The final bit of unfinished business was the 4 x 400 meter relay. After weeks on the NAIA list with provisional status, the women needed the automatic qualifying time of 4:01.90 to guarantee a spot in Johnson City, TN next month. Wilson led off in 59.8 handing the baton to Emma Ordway one step ahead of Hillsdale. Ordway increased the gap to five meters before giving Pierce the stick and the lead 59.6 seconds later. Lauren split a 61.0 alone in the lead and Peterson's 60.9 was just enough finish the job. The time of 4:01.20 gave CU its ninth 4 x 400 qualifier in the last ten years.