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Lenny Padilla | | May 23, 2014

Padilla: Runnin' with syle

  Salcia Slack is the first multi-winner at the Division II championships.

ALLENDALE, Mich. -- Salcia Slack might be the most confidence athlete in the field. But she can back it up.

She does it with a little flair, too.

Slack, a junior at New Mexico Highlands, won the heptathlon with 5,714 points on Day 2 of the 2014 NCAA Division II Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

The host school, Grand Valley State, continues to lead in the team standings with 34 points after eight of 21 events. Slack has helped New Mexico Highlands with 31 points for second place and Pittsburg State and Central Missouri are tied with 21 points. Adams State is fifth with 20 points.

“I expected to win it,” Slack said. “But I am not happy that I didn’t get at least 6,000 points. I was terrible on the first day [when she was in fourth place]. Everything seemed to go wrong.”

Just about everything went right the next day for Slack, whose signature fashion statement is to wear knee-high socks that are purple and white.

“I like to be different,” she said with a laugh.

Slack, 24, a native of Montego Bay, Jamaica, is the first multi-winner at the Division II championships. She won the long jump title on Thursday.

On Friday in the heptathlon, she won the javelin with a throw of 150 feet, 9 inches (45.94m), the long jump with a leap of 20-0 1/4 (6.10) and was second in the 800 (2:18.16).

“I’m much happier today [Friday],” Slack said. “My javelin was good and my long jump was good, too.”

Antqunita Reed finished third to Slack in the long jump on Thursday, but she bested the Jamaican in the triple jump on Friday.

Reed, a junior at Pittsburg State, won with a leap of 43-8 ¾ (13.33m) on her sixth and final jump. Euphemina Edem of Stillman was second (13.11m / 43-0 ¼) and Slack finished third (13.03m / 42-9).

“I’m pretty excited,” Reed said. “I came in real focused today. I was kind of nervous because [Slack] was behind me and she’s really good.”

For Reed, surprisingly, track is an afterthought. Her first sport is basketball.

“This is my first year,” she said. “I play basketball. I just came out here after seven weeks and decided to jump. I did it two years ago, but not last year.”

Reed’s a point guard on the Pittsburg State’s team that reached regionals.

“Triple jump is so hard,” she said. “So coming out here and winning a national title is truly a blessing.”

In the women’s discus, Tatiana Zhuravleva cruised to the championship with a throw of 184-1 feet (56.10m) for the top mark in Division II this year. Her toss was almost three inches better than second place finisher Lisette Mendivil of Indianapolis (53.43m / 175-3). Lindsey Blackwell of Lindenwood finished third (50.56m / 165-10).

Zhuravleva, a senior, is a native of Kaze, Russia. She entered the meet as the No. 1 seed with a throw of 181-8 (55.38m).

One of the most exciting events of the day was the 3,000 steeplechase. But not because it was a close race. The packed track stadium on the campus of Grand Valley State cheered on the field as Alicia Nelson blew away her competition to win with a time of 9:54.02, which is a Division II record.

Nelson, a senior, held the previous record, when she ran a 10:11.48 at the 2010 Division II national championships.

Nelson is one of most dominant steeplechase runners in the nation. She came in as the No. 1 seed with a time of 9:59.83 and blew that mark away. Not only was it a Division II championship record, it is the sixth best time in the nation across all divisions.

In second place in the steeplechase was Kyle Blakeslee from Augustana (S.D.) with a time of 10:13.93. Senior Hannah Osborn of host Grand Valley State finished third in 10:17.86, which is a personal best. Also for GVSU were junior Jordan Chester, who finished ninth with a time of 10:45.89, and sophomore Katelyn Cliff, who crossed the line 12th with a time of 11:04.76.