Final day a great one for WWU at NCAA II Championships
May 28, 2011
TURLOCK, Calif. - The final day of the 2011 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships proved to be one of the best in the history of Western Washington University.
The Vikings had two national champions Saturday - Ryan Brown (Sr., Bellingham/Squalicum) in the men's pole vault and Monika Gruszecki (Sr., Edmonds/Meadowdale) in the women's javelin - and a second-place finish in the women's 5,000 by Sarah Porter (Sr., Hockinson), who won the 10,000 on Thursday.
It was the fourth national championship for Brown, who also won back-to-back indoor pole vault titles in 2010 and 2011, and the second for Gruszecki, who won the javelin as a freshman in 2007. They are the first Vikings to win multiple individual national championships.
Brown defended his national outdoor title in the pole vault by clearing a winning height of 17-1 3/4 (5.23 meters). Brown, who entered the championships as the national leader with a clearance of 17-2 3/4, then missed two attempts at 17-3 and a meet-record effort at 18-2.
"I really came into this competition confident and ready to go," said Brown. "It started raining midway through, but nothing could hold me back."
Gruszecki won her javelin title with a school-record toss of 163-6 (49.85 meters), bettering her previous best by more than six-and-a-half feet. It came on her second throw, after an opening toss of 154-0 that would have been enough to win.
"You don't feel a thing when you hit it just right," said Gruszecki. "It was almost effortless ... This has been coming all season, and this was the competition I came in the freshest for."
Porter led for much of the race in the women's 5,000, but was passed just before the bell lap by Neely Spence of Shippensburg, Pa., who pulled away to win for the second straight year in 16:17.30. Porter was well ahead of the rest of the field at 16:23.08.
The Western women tied for sixth in the final team standings, their best ever placing in the NCAA II outdoor meet, and the Viking men were 28th.
Wrapping up the night for the Vikings were two competitors in the men's 5,000. Jordan Welling (Sr., Burlington/Burlington-Edison) stayed with the lead pack for most of the race and eventually finished 11th in 14:29.59, just in front of teammate Bennett Grimes (Sr., Pocatello, ID/Century) who was 12th in 14:30.08.
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