Zerzan Finishes Second in 5,000-Meter Run at NCAA Championships

OSHKOSH, Wisc. -- Willamette University's Sarah Zerzan (Jr., San Carlos, CA/Notre Dame HS) took second place in the finals of the 5,000-meter race at the NCAA Division III Track and Field National Championships May 26 at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

Zerzan, who won the NCAA Division III women's cross country national title in the fall, registered a time of 16.51.18 Saturday to finish less than two seconds out of the lead. Shauneen Garrahan, a senior from Amherst College, won the race in 16:49.54 to set a J.J. Keller Field record.

"Sarah almost pulled it out. The other girl [Garrahan] didn't pass her until the last straight away, the final 80 yards or so," said Willamette Head Coach Matt McGuirk.

Zerzan was running at the national championships for the second year in a row. Last season, she finished 11th in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 17:41.82.

In the final race of this year's event, the Willamette 4x400-meter relay team took fifth place in a fast race for the championship. Wartburg College won the race in 3:44.20, setting a J.J. Keller Field record and earning the top time in Division III this season.

Willamette finished the relay in 3:47.42, as Andrea May (Sr., Bellingham, WA/Sehome HS), Jennifer Luecht (Fr., Milwaukie, OR/Rex Putnam HS), Lydia Marsalli (Fr., Klamath Falls, OR/Klamath Union HS) and Mariah Hanson (Sr., Poulsbo, WA/North Kitsap HS) broke the school record by 43 one-hundredths of a second. The previous record, set at the NCAA National Championships a year ago by May, Lindsey Patterson, Jordyn Smith (Jr., Henderson, NV/Green Valley HS) and Hanson, was 3:47.85.

"It was a very physical race with lots of contact," McGuirk said. "I think our ladies, especially the freshmen running the second and third legs [Luecht and Marsalli], were really good at not getting intimidated. All of our relay runners ran their best relay splits of the year. It was a great way to finish the meet."

Jordyn Smith finished seventh in the finals of the women's 800-meter run. Smith, who completed the race in 2:11.82, was less than a second out of fifth place and just over a second away from fourth. Heidi Porter of Wartburg won the event in 2:09.49 for a J.J. Keller Field record.

Zerzan, a two-time All-America selection in cross country, added track and field All-America honors on Saturday. All-America status also went to Smith and to all of the runners on Willamette's 4x400-meter relay team. For Smith and May, this was their third straight All-America season.

Representing the men's track and field team Saturday was Grant Piros (So., Newberg, OR/Newberg HS), who competed in the javelin throw. Piros recorded a toss of 181' 11" for sixth place in the first flight, but did not advance to the finals.

The Willamette women finished in 18th place in the team standings with 14 points.

"We went to nationals with a whole lot of young kids, and we came out with six All-American awards," McGuirk said. "That's a pretty good week."