It took Stachia Reuwsaat a minute to catch her breath at the Division II indoor track and field championships Thursday, and rightfully so.
The Chadron State returning long jump champion hadn’t even finished her sixth and final attempt in the field event before being whisked away for the 60-meter dash. It was the first time Reuwsaat had competed in the sprint at a national championship – and the back-to-back efforts proved fruitful. Reuwsaat not only qualified to run in the 60-meter finals on Saturday, but defended her title in the long jump with a leap of 6.16 meters.
Her effort was key in catapulting Chadron State to the top of the team standings in the first day of competition. After three championship final events, the Eagles compiled 16 points. Grand Valley State and Findlay are tied for second with 12.
“I know that my two competitors are very, very talented, so my coach and I spent a lot of time just focusing on the things we can control,” Reuwsaat said. “So, focusing on my approach and focusing on what it is I need to do as an individual to perform at my best, because that’s what it was going to take.”
Also earning points for the Eagles was senior Mel Herl, who finished third in the weight throw. Findlay junior Tynelle Gumbs took first in the event, beating returning champion Kaitlyn Long of Winona State with a throw of 21.41 meters. Long’s throw of 21.22 meters was good for second, while Herl finished just behind with 21.13.
“I was really nervous because I knew that the competition was really stiff,” said Gumbs, who transferred to Findlay from Central Arizona College and is competing in her first Division II championship. “I knew that I had to be really technical and have a really good throw in order to win.”
The final women’s championship event of the day, the 5,000-meter run, was contested closely by two runners who are used to meeting in big-time events. University of Mary junior Alexis Zeis took the lead early and never relinquished it, though Grand Valley State senior Kendra Foley stayed tight on her heels. In the fall, Foley won the Division II cross country championships for the second time, beating out Zeis, the winner in 2015.
On Thursday, the race belonged to Zeis. The University of Mary runner crossed the line in 16:23.22, while Foley finished in 16:23.85.
“It just felt great,” Zeis said. “I was determined from the start.”
1. Chadron State, 16
2. Grand Valley State, 12
2. Findlay, 12
4. U-Mary, 10
5. West Texas A&M, 8
5. Winona State, 8
Day one event champions:
Women’s weight throw: Tynelle Gumbs, Findlay, 21.41m
Women’s long jump: Stachia Reuwsaat, Chadron State, 6.16m
Women’s 5,000-meter run: Alexis Zeis, U-Mary, 16:23.22