Track and Field | Friday, May 23, 2008
Brooke Smith Finishes Seventh at NCAA Championships with WU Record 4,536 Points in Heptathlon
OSHKOSH, WISC. -- Willamette University's Brooke Smith (Jr., Idleyld Park, OR/Glide HS) earned All-America honors with a seventh place finish in the heptathlon at the NCAA Division III Track & Field Championships on Friday, May 23. Smith also set a Bearcat record with her overall score of 4,536 points. Amy Reed from Messiah College (Pa.) won the heptathlon with a score of 5,111 points.
Smith broke the WU record of 4,462 points, which Smith set during the Willamette Multi-Event on May 4-5, 2008. It was her score at the Willamette Multi-Event that qualified her for the NCAA Championships. Prior to this season, the Bearcat record in the heptathlon was 4,408 points by Gayle Roth in 1984.
During the NCAA heptathlon, Smith finished in the top seven in four events. She was second in the javelin throw at 121'8" and was fifth in both the high jump (5'2.5") and the shot put (33'10.75"). She took seventh in the 100-meter hurdles in 15.35 seconds.
Smith scored over 550 points in all seven events. Her top two scores were 796 points in the 100-meter hurdles and 724 points in the high jump. Three of her scores were higher than her qualifying results and three others were within 12 points or less of her qualifying marks.
Over the past year, Smith has made significant improvements as a competitor in the heptathlon. In 2006-07, she took sixth place in the Northwest Conference with 3,900 points. At the NCAA Championships this season, she had 3,899 points with one event remaining. her final score of 4,536 was an improvement of 636 points over a year ago.
"She's put in a lot of hard work and the coaching staff has prepared her well," Willamette Head Coach Matt McGuirk said. "To come into a national meet for the first time and to do what she's done is truly amazing ... a great story. And, she will improve in all of the events by next year."
One more event remains for Brooke Smith at this year's championships. She will compete in the women's javelin throw on Saturday, May 24. Her qualifying throw in the javelin was 129'8" at the NWC Championships on April 18.
Two other Willamette athletes were in action on Friday. Jordyn Smith (Sr., Henderson, NV/Green Valley HS) competed in the women's 800-meter run and Jena Winger (Jr., Bonney Lake, WA/Sumner HS) ran in the women's 3000-meter steeplechase.
Jordyn Smith qualified for the finals in the 800 by taking second place in the first heat. Stephanie Herrick from the College of New Jersey won the heat in 2:13.87. Smith followed just 0.18 seconds later at 2:14.05, as she edged Kelly Russ from the University of St. Thomas (Minn.) by just one one-hundredth of a second. Russ clocked in at 2:14.06.
Smith ran close to Herrick throughout the race and was still in second place entering the final straightaway. As she completed the final turn, Smith didn't notice the efforts being made by those behind her to catch up. Russ eventually surged past Smith, but Smith regained second place at the finish line.
"Jordyn was kind of lucky," McGuirk said. "Everybody else picked up the pace. All of a sudden, she was surprised and Russ passed her. Hopefully, she'll have a great race tomorrow."
Kristen Ballinger of Amherst College (Mass.) recorded the top time of the preliminary heats in the 800. She won the third heat with a time of 2:10.48.
The top two finishers in each of three heats, plus the runners with the next three best times, advanced to the finals in the 800. As it turned out, Smith would not have made the finals if she hadn't claimed a narrow margin over Russ.
By earning a berth in the finals, Smith continued her efforts to earn All-America honors for the fourth consecutive year. She will need to finish in the top eight out of the nine runners in the finals to achieve All-America status. She entered the NCAA Championships with the fifth-best qualifying time this season (2:11.38).
Winger took 17th place in the steeplechase with a time of 11:06.68. Caitlin Bradley of Dickinson College (Pa.) won the event in 10:22.60. What the final results don't show is how well Winger was doing until the final lap.
She was part of the front pack of runners that held second place through eighth place for most of the race. She also was on target to break her own Willamette record of 10:46.74. At the start of the final lap, however, Winger hit her knee while going over the barrier. She got up and was still near the pack until she slipped on her way through the final water hazard.
Winger hopes to compete in the 5,000-meter run on Saturday. She qualified for the event with a time of 17:21.59 at the Willamette Invitational. "If she's physically able, she wants to run," McGuirk said.
Also set for action on Saturday are Willamette men's track and field athletes Ian Batch (Jr., Eagle, ID/Capital HS) and Grant Piros (Jr., Newberg, OR/Newberg HS). Batch will participate in the 5,000-meter run and Piros will compete in the javelin throw. Batch has recorded a personal best time of 14:31.79 in the 5,000 this season, while Piros has achieved a top throw of 200'4".
NCAA Division III Men's and Women's Outdoor Track & Field Championships - Official Website