Symmonds Wins Twice as Bearcat Men Bring Home Fourth; McGrane Leads Women to 11th in the Nation

WAVERLY, IA — Ten Willamette University student-athletes earned All-American awards, as the men scored 43 points (highest NCAA point total in school history) to secure the fourth place trophy, and the women scored 24 points (highest NCAA point total in school history) to finish eleventh at the NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships.

Starting off the final day for the Bearcats was senior All-American Nate Matlock (SR., Boise, ID). The six-time NWC champion came into the meet with the third best throw in the nation. In his final collegiate attempt, Matlock launched a throw of 188-04 into the air, good for third place in the hammer throw.

Just across the field, javelin thrower Kelsey Stolz (Bandon, OR), fighting heavy winds, battled her way into the finals and earning the freshman her first All-American award by finishing sixth with a throw of 137 feet 2 inches.

Sophomore Sophia Dentzel (Port Townsend, OR), in her first national meet, finished tenth in the nation.

Also throwing the javelin for the men was senior Jeff Liepman (Spokane, WA), as he competed in his first NCAA Championships. Liepman just missed qualifying for finals with a throw of 184 feet 5 inches, finishing eleventh in the competition.

The first event on the track was the men’s 1500, where 2003 national champion Nick Symmonds (JR., Boise, ID) was looking to reclaim the title he chose not to defend last season, due to a pre-season injury.

The race got out to a slow start as the field crawled to a 2:11 first 800. As the group moved along, Symmonds moved steadily into position down the home straightaway with one lap to go. Just before the bell lap, Symmonds took over first and ran a fifty-six second last lap in route to winning his fourth national title with a time of 3:54.20 (Woolston-Hoover Stadium record).

Just over an hour later, Symmonds was back on the track in the 800, an event he won as a freshman and sophomore. With just over 200 meters to go, Symmonds moved to the front, setting another stadium record as he ran away from the field by nearly two seconds on his way to a 1:49.87, and his fifth national title on the outdoor track.

Following Symmonds on the track in the women’s 800 was another Willamette mid-distance star in senior All-American Alicia Andrews (Clarkston, WA). As the field began to separate, it came down to Andrews and Wisconsin-Platteville’s Marcia Taddy. With one hundred meters to go, Taddy moved away by a couple meters, and that was the distance that would separate them at the finish line, as Andrews finished runner-up in this two-lap event for the second consecutive year with a time of 2:12.62.

Shannon McGrane (SR., Colville, WA) and Jordyn Smith (FR., Henderson, NV) lined up in lanes six and seven for the 400 hurdles. McGrane, consistently one of Division III’s top hurdlers all season, got out to a great start. As she went down the homestretch, she was out front with one other competitor. As both hurdlers neared the finish line, McGrane was edged out at the tape in perhaps the closest finish of the championships. Her time of 61.30 was only a tenth of a second off of the national champion, and just one and a half seconds ahead of her teammate Jordyn Smith.

Smith, in her first national championship final, placed 5th overall (62.74), an event that she was ranked 9th coming into.

In the men’s 5000 meter race, three-time All-American Aaron Hollingshead (SR., Portland, OR), fresh off a runner-up performance in the 3000m steeplechase the day before, got into a strong pack and competed quite well over the twelve and a half laps. As the pace quickened throughout, Hollingshead fell to 12th place (15:00.72).

As is customary in track and field, the 4X400 relay is the last event of any championship. The Bearcat women finished 8th ato earn All-American status.

McGrane led off and secured her third All-American award. Jordyn Smith became a two-time All-American and Andrea May (SO., Bellingham, WA) garnered her first All-American title, running in the two and three slots.

Anchoring the relay was four-time NCAA Division III All-American Alicia Andrews, who crossed the line with the baton in a time of 3:54.19, the relay's second best time of the year.

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