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(Angola, Ind.) From 2000-2010 the Cornerstone Women's Track & Field team finished first or second every year at the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference Championships. Last season they slipped to third, but rebounded in 2012, winning six events to take second behind Indiana Tech's sprint powerhouse.
Freshman, Anita Souza got things going by crushing the field in the 60 meter hurdles. Her winning time of 8.68 was .24 ahead of Shayla France of Indiana Tech and a new meet record. Brittany Green also made the finals, taking 8th in 9.39.
"That race set the tone for what we were trying to do," said co-captain, Julia Contreras. "We were challenged and responded together. We were confident going into that race and we were more confident coming out of it."
Over at the long jump Green, Souza and Lindsay Lipa placed 1,2,4. Green broke the meet record and school record for the win. Her mark of 19' .5" topped Cathi Powell's 18' 2.25 mark from 2006 and also earned her co-Performance of the Meet honors as she and Phoenix Duncan of Siena Heights (5' 8" in the high jump) posted the second best marks in the NAIA in their events. Souza's leap of 18' 2.25" also bettered the old CU freshman record set by Lipa earlier this season and gave her a third individual event NAIA automatic qualifying mark. Lindsay's 17' 9" jump gave the Golden Eagles a combined 22 points in the event.
Souza went back to the track for the 60 meter dash where she shattered the school record, running 7.89 in the prelims. The old mark of 8.07 was set in 2008 by Samantha Smith. Anita took eighth in the final with a 7.96 clocking as Indiana Tech scored 27 points taking five of the six scoring spots.
CU sprinters countered in the 400 meters. Tech had the five fastest seed times and a 1-5 sweep would mean another 30 points. Coming out of the second heat, senior Lauren Pierce and freshman Larissa Hampton worked together perfectly with Hampton first (59.23) and Pierce second (59.50). Both women ran personal bests and NAIA provisional qualifying times. Their times also placed third and fifth overall, giving CU another 8 points and holding the Warriors to 23. "In terms of the whole meet, those points didn't make or break things for us or for Tech," said Wortley, "but our women are here to get as many points as possible. Taking two scoring spots out the second heat says everything about our determination to compete with anyone regardless of the circumstances or seed times."
Haley Russell contributed eight points taking fourth in the 20 pound weight throw (46' 11") and fifth in the shot put (39' 6").
Julie Oosterhouse held form winning the 600 meters easily in 1:37.62. She also had the fastest time in the 800 meters, but since the two events ran back to back, Wortley entered her in the 1,000 meters and moved Julia Contreras to the 800. "Julia had the fastest 1k time in the WHAC this season and you always want to give an athlete the opportunity win, but we needed someone who could challenge for the most points in the 800," Wortley said. "When we talk about servant leadership as one of the core values of Champions of Character and CU T&F, these kinds of situations demonstrate what that means. Julia had no reservations about switching to the 800 because it was what the team needed." The junior from Fowler ran the race to perfection. When no one pushed the pace, she waited patiently in the pack, keeping teammate Liz Baller with her. With 150 meters remaining Contreras drifted wide on the backstretch and moved steadily toward the front. Her well-timed kick allowed her to pull away in the final twenty meters for an easy win in 2:28.08. Baller waged a four way battle for third grabbing fifth in 2:29.88 with only .45 separating third from sixth.
Just thirty minutes after the 600m came the 1,000 meters. CU's strategy was the same as the mile: Let Payne from Siena have the lead and have Louisignau, Oosterhouse and Yonge run together. Freshman, Sydney Tremaine's job was to get sixth. Without Contreras, Yonge held the best seed time, but Payne was the defending champion, with a better lifetime best in the event. In the early laps, the Cornerstone women ran patiently off the pace, with Oosterhouse looking tired from the 600. By the final lap, Audry and Julie moved ahead of Davenport's Kelsee Vanderbaan, into second and third, Jill was comfortably in fifth, saving her energy for the 3,000 meters and Sydney had taken over sixth. Payne held what appeared to be enough of a lead, when Yonge decided she could close the gap and launched a ferocious kick, Payne responded as Audry closed off the last turn. The pair battled all the way to the line with no clear winner. Moments later the photo revealed just how close it was, 3:15.41 to 3:15.42 with Yonge earning her first WHAC event title.
With the 19 points from the 1k, the Golden Eagles pulled within a dozen of Indiana Tech with just the 200 meters, 3,000 meters, 4 x 400 and triple jump remaining. As with the other sprints, the Warriors held six of the seven best seed times in the 200 meters and the top time in the relay as well as four best marks in the triple jump. Cornerstone would send a tired Brazilian into the 200 and a pack of weary distance runners against most of the Aquinas 2011 conference champion cross country team in the 3k.
Souza managed 25.71 for fifth in the 200 meters while Tech added 29 more points. Lindsay Lipa turned in a freshman record 35' 1.75" triple jump for fourth. The old mark of 35' 1.5" was set ten years ago by Margaret Pelz. The Warrior continued to pull away going 1-2-3-5 for 26 points.
Traditionally, Cornerstone enters all its distance women in the 3,000 meters. Often, several will scratch before the event, especially if the outcome of the meet is settled. This year, all thirteen went to the starting line in a show of solidarity. Louisignau and freshman Kaylee Carew, who had only run the 4 x 800 meter relay to start the meet were the freshest and would race as close to the front as possible. The rest would pick up whatever points they could. Aquinas sent a trio of women to the lead while Jill and Kaylee stayed within striking distance. Louisignau moved into third in the final laps, holding off the Saints' Alina Dhaseleer 10:59.09 to 10:59.93. Oosterhouse (11:10.34) led a 5-6-7 CU group overtaking Carew (11:14.42) for fifth with Yonge seventh in 11:14.47.
Lipa, Souza, Hampton and Pierce led Indiana Tech, the second ranked team in the NAIA, until the final 15 meters in the 4 x 400 meter relay. Their time of 3:57.42 was the third best in Cornerstone history.
Indiana Tech defended their 2011 team title scoring 183 points. Cornerstone improved 47 points from last year taking second with 135, ahead of Siena Heights (102), Aquinas (89) and Davenport (48).
"This was a tremendous team effort," said Wortley. "The women scored in all but three events and fought until every race or field event was over. We came into this meet with no realistic chance to win, but you wouldn't know it by the way we competed. Our upperclassmen showed tremendous leadership and this freshman class performed like veterans. I'm extremely proud of each of them."