BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—What a difference a year makes for the Adams State University women's Indoor Track & Field program.
A season ago at the NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championships, the ASU women tied for 16th with 15 points. On Saturday, the Grizzlies totaled a team score of 47 to win the program's third NCAA DII Indoor team title (2008, 2014, 2017). It's the fourth overall national indoor title for the ASU women (1985-NAIA).
"Every single female on our team was the difference maker. Every single person. Not one individual stood out more than the other," said Head Coach Rock Light. "Our coaching staff, number two, preparing these kids. Number three, these girls said before the year we were going to get back on top. Last year we finished 16th at this meet. We won. So I can't be more proud of my school."
On the third, and final, day of the championship meet the Grizzlies accounted for 31 of their 47 points. The meet concluded with 10 First Team All-American nods for the women.
"We knew our team was going to be really good. I didn't know we were going to be this good," Light added. "When we got here today, I reminded all the girls that it's 'today' now – we've talked about this. Let's go get it done."
On Saturday, the Grizzlies notched 11 team points in the women's 60m dash final as Dianna Johnson (7.34) ran her way to a national title. The sophomore shined late in the season with 60m and 200m dash RMAC titles before reigning supreme at the national championships. Her indoor season consisted of five first-place marks between the 60m and 200m dash events. Sunayna Wahi (7.63) placed eighth in the 60m dash to give Adams State a pair of All-Americans in the event. After her top preliminary mark on Friday, Wahi (23.67) placed second in the 200m dash final to conclude the meet as an All-American in the 60m and 200m dash.
Jenna Thurman remained busy at the championships as the junior took second in the women's 3000m at 9:23.78 to establish a new indoor school record. The previous school record was set by Thurman in February at the UW Open in Seattle.
"It feels so amazing! It was awesome to just watch everyone race knowing that we all had to run as hard as we could for each other in order to win the title," Thurman said on Saturday. "In the 3K I was ranked fourth and I knew the points in the 3K would be critical for us to win, so I gave it everything I had even though my legs were tired at the end going on six miles of hard racing. I'm so proud of everyone, we all had amazing efforts."
Thurman was responsible for 24 team points over the course of the meet en route to earning First Team All-American status in the 5000m, 3000m, and DMR.
Roisin Flanagan (4:45.19) ran a personal-best in the women's mile to claim fifth place. The sophomore concluded the championship meet with All-American honors in the mile and as a member of the winning, and record-setting, Distance Medley Relay (DMR).
The 4x400m relay team of Wahi, Johnson, Jessica Scherrer, and Leanne Allen placed 9th with a time of 3:45.34 to set a new ASU indoor school record. The time bested the previous school record mark of 3:46.86 set in 2016. With their finish, the 4x400m relay team earned Second Team All-American distinction.
In the team standings, ASU fended off Grand Valley State University (2nd place, 39 points) and RMAC foe Chadron State College (3rd place, 38 points).
The Adams State men claimed fourth place overall with a team score of 41 points. The three day meet concluded with nine First Team All-American honors. Highlighting the Adams State men on Saturday was Sydney Gidabuday's (7:56.88) first place crown in the men's 3000m to give him back-to-back indoor titles.
"I had the 5k in mind," Gidabuday said of his third place 5000m finish on Thursday. "I wanted to redeem myself. I made a big move with 8 or 9 (laps) left but then they covered it. From then on I was thinking that there was no way I was going to lose this race."
Gidabuday set the championship and NCAA DII record (for a 200-meter track) with his performance. Gidabuday crushed the meet record set in 2015 by nearly five seconds and shaved nearly one second off the all-time mark set by Michael Crouch of Queens (NC) who ran 7:57.79 on 2/7/09.
"I fully expected that to happen and I'm glad it did," Gidabuday said of setting a new championship record. "I wasn't really looking at the time, I just really wanted to come for the win because I wasn't able to defend my 5K national title. You know, so I wanted to come back and do something special in the 3K at least."
Gidabuday wrapped up the championship meet with First Team All-American honors in the 3000m and 5000m.
Two-time defending indoor mile champ Oliver Aitchison (4:06.16) finished second in the event en route to All-American honors. Aitchison picked up All-American status in Friday's DMR event as well.
Sam Reid (18.48m) recorded a new personal-best in the shot put as the sophomore earned third place. His PR throw came on his fifth attempt as Reid became an All-American. Reid entered the championships ranked 10th nationally in the shot put.
Tiffin University won the men's team title for the second year in a row with 63 points.
It was a banner day on Friday for the Adams State University women's Distance Medley Relay (DMR) on Day Two of the NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championships at the Birmingham CrossPlex.
With a time of 11:15.28, the team of Roisin Flanagan, Jessica Scherrer, Leanne Allen, and Jenna Thurman ran to a NCAA DII Indoor Championship and Adams State school record. The previous Championship record was held by Grand Valley State University with a time of 11:23.35 set in 2012.
In the opening 1200m leg, Flanagan remained near the front of the pack. As Flanagan handed off the baton, the Grizzlies stood in second but that quickly changed as Jessica Scherrer surged out in front at the beginning of her 400m leg. Leanne Allen maintained the lead in her 800m leg to set up a thrilling finish during Jenna Thurman's 1600m leg finish. Less than 24 hours removed from Thursday's 5000m All-American performance, Thurman held ASU in front but with only 400m to go Minnesota-Duluth's Emilee Trost took the lead. In the final 100m Thurman's late kick pushed her back into the lead and across the finish line in record time. Minnesota-Duluth placed second in 11:16.90.
"I got the baton when we were in first, which is kind of a lot of pressure but it's kind of nice—it's kind of in between. I just kept trying to stay on pace the whole time. And I could kind of see people in the camera gaining on me, and I just picked it up a little more. Then Emily Trost came, and I was like there's no way I'm losing this for my team. I think my coach said my last 400 (meters) was 66 (seconds). I don't know if I've ever closed in a 66. I think I ran the equivalent to my mile PR, which is great. So I'm just happy for my team." Thurman said after Friday's record-setting performance.
The men's DMR immediately followed in what emerged as another record-setting race. The Adams State men's DMR team of George Kelly, Micah Ballantyne, Tom Gifford, and Oliver Aitchison finished in second by the slimmest of margins. The Grizzlies clocked a time of 9:40.145 but it was Western Oregon who finished first at 9:40.144. The Grizzlies were positioned in third after Kelly's 1200m leg but emerged as the leader with Ballantyne's 400m leg. As Gifford's 800m leg concluded the Grizzlies stood in third with Aitchison moving ASU up a spot after his 1600m leg. Adams State's time bested the previous Championship record of 9:41.79 set by Adams State in 2015.
In the women's 200m dash preliminary, Sunayna Wahi (23.95) stood above the field with the top overall time. Her feat established a new indoor personal-record (PR) for the event. Her previous PR of 24.14 came during the 2014-15 indoor campaign. Wahi is now slated to compete in Saturday's 60m dash and 200m dash finals. The women's 60m dash final will begin at 1:45 p.m. MT with the women's 200m dash final set for 3:20 p.m. MT.
Oweneika Watson (8.71) placed 13th in the women's 60m hurdles preliminary as Ian Kerr (21.950) took 14th in the men's 200m dash preliminary.
In the pentathlon, Serena Canegan (3418 points) placed 16th overall. Her best event finish came in the high jump as the junior cleared 1.68m for third. The height tied Canegan's PR in the high jump. Canegan placed eighth in the shot put (10.79m), 10th in the long jump (5.30m), and 16th in both the 800m (2:38.79) and 60m hurdles (9.66).