BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- For the first time in its history, Central Missouri can call themselves National Champions.
UCM had competitors in 11 different events, and 10 were ranked in the top 10 of their events, tied for the most of any team going into the meet.
Though they were in the top 5 for most of the meet, they didn't take over the lead until there was one event remaining. Trailing by five points with two events to go, it was Erika Kinsey and Madison Smith who pushed them over the top as they leapfrogged two teams into first place.
In the next-to-last event, Kinsey won her second individual championship of the day, the high jump, tying the school record and championship meet record at 6 feet, 2.75 inches. Smith took fourth in the event, tying her personal-best 5 feet, 9.25 inches. The 15 points gave the Jens a 10-point cushion heading into the final event, which proved to be more than enough to win the championship.
"It was a special day. Something I'll remember for a long time," said co-head coach Kip Janvrin. "It was crazy toward the end. I was hoping we'd have a chance to medal when all of a sudden Erika and Madison were jumping real well. Erika moved from fourth place up to first in the triple jump on one of her final attempts. For Madison to come back and place fourth in the high jump after finishing third in the pentathlon was really special. So in a matter of about five minutes, I went from hoping to finish with a medal to winning the whole thing."
The Jens totaled 47 points, besting second-place Hillsdale by seven and ten points on New Mexico Highlands and Ashland who tied for third place.