LINCOLN, Neb. -- At the 2003 NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships, Geneseo State’s Melissa White set a 5,000 meter record by finishing in 16:39.16.
That record no longer stands. Not by a long way.It came crashing down Friday at Bob Devaney Sports Center during the 2014 edition the 5,000. La Verne senior distance runner Lenore Moreno now owns the DIII indoor record after flying to a 16:32.85 finish, thus surpassing White’s remarkable time by more than six seconds.
Just as staggering is that Moreno’s time Friday cut her previous 2014 best by nearly 13.
She had hit 16:45.51, then a new personal and school record, Feb. 14 at the Husky Classic hosted by Washington. That time placed her 13th in a field of 58 that was mostly made up of Division I runners.
Not bad, eh, for the first and final indoor season for Moreno, only the second female La Verne athlete and third Leopard all-time to qualify for the DIII indoor championships.
The question begs to be asked, then: What possessed her to obliterate even more records Friday?
If you’re waiting for a big-headed answer, it’s not forthcoming.
“I guess it was just down to all the training I’ve done, because I can definitely say it’s paid off,” Moreno said. “It was unexpected, and I didn’t know I could do this. It was a big surprise to me.”
The trailing pack was probably surprised, too. Calvin senior Nicole Michmerhuizen finished second with a time of 16:41.26, while St. Lawrence sophomore Amy Cymerman ended up third at 16:47.21.
Considering La Verne’s setting, about 30 minutes east of Los Angeles, it’s not tough to picture the Leopards being less known for their indoor track and field prowess than what they do outdoors.
However, with Moreno crushing indoor records like she has this year, it’s no surprise she was happy to get the chance to show her talents under roofs.
“It was just a coaches’ decision,” Moreno said of the Leopards’ choice to compete indoors as well as out. “Our school, since we’re from California, we don’t really need to do indoors, so it was just a new thing we wanted to try, but I’m glad we did because this sort of stuff never happens.”
First-year assistant track and field coach Bryan George believes Moreno has the potential to continue running competitively once the Leopards’ outdoor season is over and her collegiate career comes to an end.
“Outdoors, the 10K is a big thing out there, and I just think she gets stronger the longer the race is,” George said. “I think that she’s worked really hard during the past several years but in particular during the past several months, but I think that she will only get stronger in the next couple of months before the outdoor championships.
“[Competing after college] is up to her. She’s definitely good enough to run post-collegiately, so that’s a decision she’s going to have to make once she’s finished up with us, but she could.”
As for that outdoor portion of her senior season, Moreno feels her feat in Lincoln will serve as a springboard to perhaps bigger and better things.
“[Winning the 5,000] definitely helps,” Moreno said. “It gives me a lot of confidence going into outdoor, and just a ton of motivation to keep working harder to do things I didn’t think were possible.”