DELAWARE, Ohio – The NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships got off to a thundering start Thursday. Lightning flashes around the Ohio Wesleyan campus briefly halted the meet in the afternoon before the storm blew past George Gauthier Track and allowed an abbreviated schedule of action to resume.

After a first-place leap in the long jump at the 2011 Indoor championship, Methodist junior Ashlynn Chavis completed a season sweep of the event as the outdoor title winner. Battling through the rain, Chavis saved her best for last and soared 6.17 meters (20-3) on her final attempt to claim the crown and set an NCAA Division III championship meet record.

“At first I wasn’t getting to where I wanted to be and then the rain came. I was jumping 19 and was getting stressed out,” said Chavis, who previously set the national record with a career-best leap of 6.25m. “I’ve been jumping over 20 this season and I wanted something better than that. I wanted to be greedy.”

In the 10,000-meter run, Williams College’s Jennifer Gossels became the seventh different woman to win the event in as many years. Gossels, a sophomore, stopped the clock at 35:11.76 to top the field of 22 runners.

The long jump and 10k were the only women’s finals completed on Thursday due to the rain delay. The pole vault and hammer throw were delayed to Friday morning at 11 a.m.

With more than half of the heptathlon in the books, Emma Dewart of Ithaca piled up 3,079 points to grab the lead at the conclusion of day one. Dewart’s best performance came in the 100-meter hurdles with a 14.10 finish that gave her the top spot.

In addition to the pole vault and hammer throw, the heptathlon, triple jump, shot put, and steeplechase are the other finals on the docket at the second day of the NCAA Division III championships.