March 10, 2006
Fayetteville, AR -
The distance medley relay squad will return to Providence with All-American honors after competing at the NCAA Division I Championships on Friday.
"I could not be more proud of or excited for our women," said Director of Track and Field Craig Lake. "They entered the weekend seeded ninth and placed eighth (to grab the last All-American spot)."
The team timed in officially at 11:20.10.
The quartet, composed of junior Naja Ferjan (Ljubljana, Slovenia), sophomore Akilah King (Medford, MA), senior co-captain Kelly Powell (East Patchogue, NY) and senior Anna Willard (Greenwood, ME) traveled to Fayetteville, Arkansas after qualifying at the ECAC Championships on March 5.
"It was truly a team effort," Lake said. "Naja and Anna ran terrific legs (at ECACs) to help the team qualify for Nationals, and then Akilah and Kelly both came through and set personal bests at Nationals to lead us to All-American status."
Ferjan led off for the team, running the 1200 in 3:29, despite almost falling at the start after being elbowed. She kept her composure after the incident, and worked her way back up throughout her six laps to keep the Bears within striking distance. Ferjan has been the core of the middle distance squad since her arrival in the fall of 2003 and can now add All-American status to her individual 800-meter Heptagonal Championship titles.
King stepped onto the track next for Bruno, and after grabbing the baton from Ferjan, set out on the 400-meter leg of the relay. King, the Heptagonal runner-up in both the 400-meter and in the 200-meter dashes, blazed to a 55.0 split.
Powell has led her team off the track as co-captain for the past two years, and this weekend proved that she can lead on the track as well. Her time of 2:10 in the 800-meter leg was a personal best and two seconds faster than her split at the ECACs, and the same amount faster than when she scored at the Heps in the event. Despite the jostling in the beginning of the race, the efforts of King and Powell had moved the squad into ninth place.
Willard, coming off her 1600-meter split of 4:41 last weekend, steadily closed the gap to Tennessee's Sarah Bowerman, who was running in eighth-place, throughout her anchor leg. Willard, third at Heps in the mile, passed Bowerman and crossed in 4:45, sealing the deal for Bruno.
One more Bear is in high pursuit of earning an All-American certificate, this time on the jumps runway. Despite a recent injury to her lead leg, co-captain Brittany Grovey (Hobbs, NM) will be competing in the triple jump Saturday afternoon. Grovey was just named the Northeast Region Field Athlete of the Year by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. Her winning mark of 43-4.5 at Heps not only defended her title in the event, but broke a 17-year old meet record by a foot and her own school record by two.