ALLENDALE, Mich. -- Emily Oren feels right at home on any track.
But the Hillsdale distance runner will truly be at home this week at the 2015 NCAA Division II Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Oren grew up in Hamilton, Michigan, which is just 28 miles away from the campus of Grand Valley State, the host of the event for the second year in a row.
“It’s nice to have it at GVSU,” said Oren, who competes for Hillsdale, which is in the same league as GVSU: the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. “It’s really nice because my family and friends can come. It’s great to have a support system.”
Oren is one of three athletes in the field to be a top seed in more than one event. She has the top time in the country in the 5,000 meters (16 minutes, 17.40 seconds) and the 3,000-meter steeplechase (10:04.79).
A total of 754 participants, 377 men and 377 women, will compete in the championships from 97 schools.
Central Missouri is the No. 1 ranked team in Division II, followed by New Mexico Highlands, Lincoln, St. Augustine’s and host Grand Valley State.
GVSU coach Jerry Baltes said that after Central Missouri, the event is a crap shoot.
“Central Missouri is definitely the favorite,” said Baltes, who is a three-time national coach of the year. “Then there’s six to eight teams that are very similar. So it depends on who has the good day. New Mexico Highlands is very strong and so is Ashland and St. Augustine’s. We feel we fit in there, too. I think we’ll finish better than what we’re ranked.”
Oren, who finished fifth in the steeplechase last year at nationals, likes being the top seed.
“It’s exciting. I didn’t expect it going into the season,” said Oren, who won the national title in the 3,000 during the indoor season. “It’s a confidence boost being ranked.”
Her top competition in the 5,000 is Grand Valley’s Amy Cymerman, who is the No. 2 seed (16:20.59). They raced against each other a few weeks ago at the GLIAC championships.
"That was a good race before nationals," Oren said. "It’s nice to see how she races. It will be fun.”
Oren won’t just have family in the stands. She’ll have a family member running by her side. Oren’s younger sister, Molly Oren, is the 10th seed in the steeplechase (10:30.92). In the stands, they will have older sister Sarah, who ran at Oakland, and parents Jim and Dawn Oren.
“I love having her race it with me,” Emily said. “It brings me back to high school when we used to race together a lot. It’s really fun.”
Texas A&M-Kingsville's Kaina Martinez is the fastest runner in the country this season. The senior is the top seed in the 100 meters with a time of 11.47 seconds. She also is the No. 19 seed in the 200 meters (24.13). Ada Udaya, a senior from New Haven, is the top seed in the 200 (23.27).
Carly Muscaro is the top seed in the 400 meters. The sophomore from Merrimack has a season-best time of 51.83.
In the 800, Lindsey Butterworth, a senior from Simon Fraser, ran a blistering 2:04.11. The next closest time is almost 2 seconds slower.
Staci Foster has the top time in the 1,500. The senior from Azusa Pacific ran a 4:21.07.
Jessica May, a senior from Pittsburg State, has the top time in the 10,000 (34:25.51). She is closely followed by Augustana (S.D.) freshman Leah Seivert (34:38.77).
In the hurdles, Ladonna Richards has a time of 13.22 seconds in the 100-meter race. The senior from Lincoln is also seeded 10th in the 400 hurdles (59.75). The top time in the 400 hurdles is by St. Augustine's sophomore Tia-Adana Belle.
Central Missouri is strong in the field events. They have the top two leaps in the high jump this season. Erika Kinsey, a freshman, has a best of 1.92 meters. Teammate Madison Smith, a senior, has a jump of 1.82 meters. She is followed closely by Jennifer Foster from Ashland, who is third (1.81).
In pole vault, Rebecca Preisler has the best leap in the country with a 4.20 meters.
Tarleton State senior Euphemia Edem has the best leap in the long jump (6.44 meters) and is also tied for the best mark in the triple jump (13.22). Salcia Slack, who won the national title last year, also had a mark of 13.22 meters. Slack is a senior from New Mexico Highlands.
Slack also has the top mark in the heptathlon with 6,141 points. That easily outpaces second-place Megan Van Winkle, whose point total of 5,504 is second best. She is a senior from Azusa Pacific.
Fort Hayes State freshman Estefania Lopez has the top throw in the javelin (51.69m). Heavin Warner, a junior from Central Missouri, is tops in the hammer throw (67.24m) and second seed in the discus (54.98m). Alissa Rausch, a senior from Winona State, has the top throw in the discus (55.92m).
And in the shot put, Sara Wells, a senior from Wayne State (Neb.), has the top throw with 16.47 meters.