May 9, 2012
MONMOUTH, Ore. - Former champions return in 26 different events for the 2012 GNAC Track and Field championship meet, which restarts Friday at McArthur Stadium in Monmouth, Ore.
The first events on Friday's schedule are the men's shot put and the women's discus. The first running events are the women's steeplechase at 2:40 p.m. and the men's steeple at 3 p.m. The two-day meet continues on Saturday beginning at 9:30 a.m. with the women's hammer.
Two of the 26 past champions - multi-eventers Alex Harrison of Western Washington and Ali Worthen of Seattle Pacific - have already secured their second titles with record point totals.
Harrison won his second decathlon title last week at Ellensburg (he was also the 2010 winner) with a meet record point total of 6,598 points, while Worthen successfully defended her 2011 championship in the heptathlon with a record 5,199 points.
The win was Worthen's fourth career individual victory and her fifth overall including relays putting her in position to equal or better the GNAC championship meet career marks of six individual and seven overall victories.
She is also the defending champion in the long jump and high jump and will also compete in the 100 hurdles. She comes in as the No. 1 seed in the high jump and hurdles and is the No. 2 seed in back of Emily Warman of Western Washington in the long jump.
Kishia Mitchell of Seattle Pacific is also a past two-event winner. She won both the 100 and 200 meters last season.
Other 2011 winners back to defend in the women's division include Ruth Keino of Alaska Anchorage in the 5000, Kati Davis of Central Washington in the pole vault, Ashley Potter of Western Oregon in the triple jump and Anica Knispel of Montana State Billings in the shot put.
In addition three 2010 champions - Seattle Pacific's Emily Quatier in the 400, Western Washington's Michelle Howe in the 100 hurdles and Joy Warrington of Northwest Nazarene in the shot put - and 2008 champion Brittany Aanstad of Seattle Pacific in the javelin - will be seeking their second titles in their events.
Another 2010 champion is Potter in the long jump, but she will concentrate on just the triple jump this weekend.
In the men's division, Alaska Anchorage distance runner Micah Chelimo and Western Washington thrower Michael Hoffman will be attempting to match a feat accomplished by just seven previous male athletes in meet history - win the same event three times.
Chelimo is the two-time defending champion in the steeplechase and Hoffman is the two-time champion in the hammer.
Chelimo will also attempt to win the 5,000 meters for the second year in a row. He is the GNAC record-holder in both the steeplechase (8:45.63) and 5K (13:53.51) and ranks third nationally in both.
Three other Alaska Anchorage athletes are also past champions. Alfred Kangogo won both the 800 and 1500 meter titles in 2010 when he was voted the Meet's Outstanding Performer.
Ethan Hewitt won the 400 meters in the 2010 meet and Shaun Ward was the 400 hurdles champion last season. Ward set the GNAC record in his event this spring running a time of 52.00.
Harrison will be seeking his second title in the javelin and in this year's meet. He was also the javelin winner in 2010.
Host Western Oregon has three former champions in the men's field including 2011 champion Brett Campbell in the 110 high hurdles.
Will Crook is back to defend his 2011 javelin title, while Matson Hardie seeks his second triple jump crown after also winning the event in his freshman season two years ago.
Other past champions in the field include Maurus Hope of Northwest Nazarene in the 400 hurdles (2010), Brennan Boyes of Central Washington in the high jump (2011), Ray Zoelleck of Seattle Pacific in the pole vault (2011) and Sam Washington of Saint Martin's in the shot put (2008).
Simon Fraser's Ryan Brockerville won the 1500 last fall, but will skip that event to challenge Chelimo in the steeplechase.
Western Oregon is the defending men's team champion, however Western Washington and Alaska Anchorage have a significant advantage over the Wolves in individual athletes seeded among the Top 3 going into this weekend's meet.
Both the Vikings and Seawolves have 13 Top 3 seeds. WWU leads the way with eight No. 1 seeds and also has one No. 2 seed and four No. 3 seeds. Alaska Anchorage his six top-seeds, three No. 2 and four No. 3 seeds. Both schools are the top seed in one relay and the No. 3 seed in the other.
Western Washington will begin the weekend with a 10-point lead over Alaska Anchorage based on Harrison's win in the decathlon. Both Western Oregon and Central Washington, which scored 17 1/2 points in the decathlon, have seven athletes among the Top 3 seeds.
Alaska Anchorage could also give Seattle Pacific, which has won four of the past five team titles, a run for the women's crown.
The Seawolves bring 16 individual Top 3 seeds into the weekend competition, including six No. 1s, three No. 2s and seven No. 3s. Among UAA's top seeds are GNAC record-holders Haleigh Lloyd in the 400 hurdles (59.62) and Susan Tanui in the steeplechase (10:15.47).
Seattle Pacific, which outscored UAA 12-8 in the heptathlon, has 12 - three No. 1, six No. 2 seeds and three No. 3s.
The Falcons are also the No. 1 seed in both relays, while UAA is the No. 2 seed in both events.
Western Washington also has a double-digit Top 3 seed total, include five No. 1s, one No. 2 and four No. 3 seeds. They include Karis Anderson and Warman who set GNAC records this spring in the pole vault (12-7 ½) and triple jump (40-5), respectively.
Q&A with Monika Gruszecki
Former WWU javelin thrower Monika Gruszecki now works an an intern with the NCAA
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