UAA's Chelimo, Tanui and Anders shine to give Seawolves 10 All-America results at Division II indoor track and field nationals

Doyle Woody

UAA track and field athletes bagged three more All-America titles Saturday, and that's pretty much where the Seawolves were on the weekend -- all over America.

Distance standouts Micah Chelimo and Susan Tanui each earned their second All-America titles in 24 hours at the NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championships in Birmingham, Ala., where UAA freshman Karolin Anders posted personal records in all five events to seize fifth place in the women's pentathlon.

Chelimo, coming off Friday night's national championship in the 5,000 meters, finished fourth in the 3,000 meters on Saturday to collect the 10th All-America honor of his career. Tanui, who was third in the women's 5,000 Friday, backed that up with an eighth-place finish in the 3,000.

Meanwhile, at the Southern Invitational outdoor meet in Birmingham, the four Seawolves women who comprised the school's All-America distance medley relay team Friday each turned around Saturday and achieved provisional qualifying marks in individual events for this spring's outdoor national meet.

But that wasn't all. UAA javelin throwers Franz Burghagen and returning All-America Cody Parker competed Saturday at the Ben Brown Invitational at Cal State-Fullerton in California, and each promptly delivered performances that earned them automatic qualifiers to the outdoor nationals.

In all, UAA seized 10 All-America honors at the indoor nationals, matching the number of honors the Seawolves earned at last year's outdoor nationals.

"These are special moments,'' UAA coach Michael Friess said by cellphone. "I hope people don't take it for granted.''

None of the three men who finished ahead of Chelimo in the 3,000 on Saturday competed in Friday's 5,000, in which Chelimo captured his third national title -- he won the 5,000 outdoors last spring and the national cross country title late last fall.

Kevin Batt of Adams State won the 3,000 in 8 minutes, 7.30 seconds. Chelimo's 8:11.73 was 2.42 seconds faster than his previous best. Chelimo stayed near the front throughout the first 2,000 meters and took the lead with 800 to go.

"For him to get fourth -- he's just a stud, no question about it,'' Friess said. "We knew the guys behind him had decent speed and were fresher, so at some point he had to take the lead. I thought he positioned himself well and gave himself the best possible shot.''

Alicia Nelson of Adams State won the women's 3,000 in 9:38.92, and Tanui took eighth in 9:48.53. Only two of the runners who finished ahead of Tanui also competed in Friday's 5,000 with her.

Anders, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last fall, has obviously rebounded well. Her five-event total of 3,656 points was an improvement of 198 points over her previous best. She generated career bests in every event -- the 60-meter hurdles (9.38 seconds), high jump (5 feet, 5.25 inches), shot put (36-8), long jump (17-11.50) and 800 meters (2:27.92).

Anders' performance was all the more noteworthy because her qualifying score seeded her 15th in the field.

"She's kind of had it going on,'' Friess said.

UAA's women finished 11th in the team competition with 23 points and its men took 14th with 15 points, all generated by Chelimo.

Burghagen's meet-winning javelin throw of 230-7 in California, and Parker's runner-up sling of 218-0, both eclipsed the automatic outdoor qualifying distance of 216-3.

"They make a pretty good 1-2 in the javelin,'' Friess said. "They have each other to train with and to motivate.''

At the Southern Invitational, UAA freshman Jessica Pahkala ran a personal-best 2:13.3 in the 800 meters, which provisionally qualifies her for nationals. Also posting provisional qualifiers were Ivy O'Guinn in the 800 (2:12.71), Susan Bick in the 800 (2:13.41) and Haleigh Lloyd in the 400-meter hurdles (61.99).

Friess has built UAA's cross country and outdoor track programs into national powers, and now the Seawolves have parlayed that into additional strength in the school's debut season of indoor track and field.

"We knew we had the talent, and I'm just glad the university had confidence in us to conduct the sport,'' Friess said. "Hopefully, we've paid our dues.''

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