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UAA's Kipchumba runs to All-America honors; Anders, Thomas eye big finishes

Beth Bragg

For their next act, Karolin Anders and Cody Thomas hope for a repeat of their first act.

UAA's multi-sport athletes peaked at the absolute best time Thursday at the NCAA Division II national track and field championships, enjoying a day of personal bests in Allendale, Michigan.

Both athletes are in third place going into Friday's final events in the women's heptathlon and men's decathlon.

Anders, a sophomore from Germany, recorded personal records in all four of her events in the women's heptathlon. Thomas, a junior from New Zealand, had personal bests in three of his five decathlon events.

"That was amazing," Anders said in a press release. "I didn't know what to expect. I was still tired from (the conference championships). We did a lot of work the last couple weeks."

While Anders and Thomas put themselves in position to claim All-America honors, awarded to top-eight finishers, junior Joyce Kipchumba became UAA's first All-America performer of the meet by running to seventh place in Thursday night's 10,000 meters.

Kipchumba finished in 35 minutes, 35.61 seconds. She gets a chance at more glory Saturday, when competes in the 5,000 meters.

But the big news was the multi-sport athletes. Anders came into the meet ranked seventh in the heptathlon field and Thomas was ranked eighth among decathletes, so it qualifies as a surprise that both finished the first day of competition in third place.

Anders chalked up PRs in the high jump (5 feet, 8 inches), 100 hurdles (14.89), 200 (25.64) and shot put (39-4).

Thomas had PRs in high jump (6-6), 400 (48.21) and shot put (39-3). He went 22-7 in the long jump and 11.02 in the 100.

Thomas said his shot put effort, which produced perhaps his most unexpected success, helped carry him through the day.

"I needed a pick-me-up somehow," he said. "I didn't run the fastest 100. I didn't have the best long jump -- I didn't hit the board. But that's the way the multis are.

"When shot put kind of went OK, I went, 'Oh, sweet, I'm still on track.' "

Thomas finished with 3,929 points, which puts him on pace to break his school record of 6,940 and meet his season goal of 7,000 points.

His schedule today includes the javelin, 100 hurdles, pole vault, discus and 1,500.

"Pole vault is the one that is going to be make or break for me," he said.

Anders will compete in the long jump, javelin and 800. Although she won the Great Northwest Athletic Conference heptathlon championship two weeks ago, she wants to avoid a repeat of what happened at that meet.

"At GNAC, I had a good first day and a bad second day," Anders said. "So I hope that's not going to happen again."

Anders set a UAA record in the high jump, her mark of 5-8 breaking her old mark of 5-7.75. The performance came even though her mark, the item that marks the place where her takeoff begins, blew away during competition.

"I was worried for a little bit," she said. "But I'm like, 'No, that's not going to affect me at all.' I'm not going to freak out because my mark blew away, I'm going to find it. I had to take two attempts to walk it off again, because I don't measure with measuring tape.

"... All of the girls were so supportive."

Another big result came in the 100 hurdles, the first event of the day for heptathletes. Aided by wind, Anders broke the 15-second mark for the first time.

"That was huge, I have to admit," she said. "It's so awesome to start with a PR."

In other action Thursday, Soldotna's Ivy O'Guinn advanced to the 1,500-meter finals for the Seawolves by placing third in her preliminary heat in 4:29.66.

UAA freshman Jamie Ashcroft set a GNAC record in the 100 meter prelims with a time of 11.69 but missed making the finals by two positions. Ashcroft's 400 meter relay team, which also included Makenzie Harsch, Rosie Smith and Sasha Halfyard, finished 12th in 47.46 seconds, and junior Isaac Kangogo finished 16th in the 1,600 prelims in 3:58.62.

Reach Beth Bragg at bbragg@adn.com or 257-4335.


By BETH BRAGG
bbragg@adn.com