Adams State came into the women’s indoor track and field championships with something to prove.
Last year, the Grizzlies placed 16th on the national stage – a disappointing finish for a group weakened by injuries. Healthy and determined this year, the women knew they could make a big comeback in Birmingham.
“Big comeback” could have been the third-place finish the team was predicted to earn heading into the meet. Instead, the Grizzlies came away with a national title.
“These girls said before the year we were going to get back on top,” said head coach Rock Light. “We knew our team was going to be pretty good. I didn’t know we were going to this good.”
Adams State finished the three-day competition at the Birmingham CrossPlex with 47 points. Grand Valley State placed second with 39 points, while Chadron State came in third with 38.
For Adams State, the road to their third women’s indoor title was highlighted by a history-making performance in the distance medley relay on Friday, a race that ended with four teams breaking the previous relay record set in 2012. The team of Roisin Flanagan, Jessica Scherrer, Leanne Allen and Jenna Thurman posted a time of 11:15.28. The finish was just over a second faster than Minnesota-Duluth’s, thanks to a sprint finish by Thurman to hold off standout miler Emilee Trost. “I was like, there’s no way I’m losing this for my team,” Thurman said after the race.
That team-first focus is what defines this year’s Grizzlies, Light said. “They thrive off each other,” he added. “Every single female on our team was the difference maker. Every single person.”
Adams State boasted an individual champion in sophomore Dianna Johnson, who won the 60-meter dash in 7.34. Senior Sunayna Wahi came back after losing last season to a broken foot to place eighth in the shorter sprint and second in the 200.
A runner-up finish in the 3,000 meters and a third-place in the 5,000 by Thurman collected an additional 14 points for the Grizzlies. Flanagan added a fifth-place effort in the mile.
Merrimack senior Carly Muscaro also made Division II history on Saturday, breaking the Division II record in the 400 meters. Her time of 51.78 topped the indoor championship record of 52.22 set in 1997 by Lorraine Graham. Runner-up Tovea Jenkins from Johnson C. Smith came out blazing in the 400 as well, running 52.13 to also beat the previous record. One hour after entering the record books, Muscaro claimed her second title of the day in the 200 meters.
"This is a dream,” she said. “I had so many goals that I set for myself for a long time, and they finally came true.”
Women’s Team Results (Top 5)
Adams State, 47
Grand Valley State, 39
Chadron State, 38
Pittsburg State, 35.83
West Texas A&M, 35
Day Three Event Champions
60 meters: Dianna Johnson, Adams State, 7.34
200 meters: Carly Muscaro, Merrimack, 23.57
400 meters: Carly Muscaro, Merrimack, 51.78
800 meters: Carsyn Koch, Cedarville, 2:05.65
Mile: Alicja Konieczek, Western State, 4:37.42
3,000 meters: Alicja Konieczek, Western State, 9:23.19
60-meter hurdles: Altoniece Williams, Minnesota State, 8.37
4x400-meter relay: Johnson C. Smith, 3:42.05
High jump: Natalie O’Keefe, Southwest Baptist, 1.76 meters
Triple jump: Rellie Kaputin, West Texas A&M, 13.09 meters
Shot put: Mel Herl, Chadron State, 15.77 meters