MARION, Ind. -- It was another great start to a national championship event for Mount Mercy. Senior Jenna Higgins won her second national title in the javelin and senior Mwale Kapande became an all-American in the long jump at the 33rd Annual NAIA Outdoor Track & Field Championships today at Indiana Wesleyan University.
Higgins came into the outdoor national meet as the favorite to win her second title in three years. The 2011 NAIA national champion became a four-time all-American in the javelin with her victory today. Her toss of 165'-5" was nearly 11 feet further than runner-up Stephanie Nelson of Baker (Kan.). Baker was the defending national champ, having edged Higgins last spring. In the two years that Higgins did not win the national title, she was runner-up as a freshman and junior.
Kapande, seeded 16th coming into the long jump competition, ended up eighth with a leap of 18'-8 1/2". She is an all-American for the second season in a row, having finished third at the 2012 outdoor national meet. Kapande was also a two-time indoor all-American in the long jump, placing eighth and third the past two years.
Higgins and Kapande teamed with freshman Maryann Dike and senior Larissa Wilden to help the Mustangs earn a berth in the finals of the 4x100 meter relay. Mount Mercy, ranked 17th in the event entering the national championships, qualified eighth in the prelims with a school-record time of :47.91. The Mustangs race in the finals on Saturday at 1:40 p.m. Central Time.
There's plenty of competition left for the Mustangs. Higgins will complete the final three events in the heptathlon on Friday at 9:30 a.m. CT. She sits in fourth place after the first four events on Thursday morning. Higgins was fourth in the 100 meter hurdles (:14.99), 16th in the high jump (4'-7"), sixth in the shot put (34'-8 1/4") and won the 200 meter dash (:25.10).
Wilden can become an all-American in two events on Saturday and could potentially be a six-time NAIA all-American when her career comes to a close. Before racing in the finals of the 4x100 meter relay, she will compete in the high jump at 1:00 p.m. CT, an event she was runner-up in as a junior. Wilden was also a two-time indoor all-American in the high jump and was an indoor all-American in the pentathlon in March.
Through five events scored on Thursday, Mount Mercy is in eighth place in the women's standings with 11 points. Eastern Oregon leads with 16 points, followed by Oklahoma Baptist (15.75), Baker (Kan.) (15.75), Bethel (Ind.) (15.50), Concordia (Neb.) (14), Indiana Tech (13), Concordia (Ore.) (12), Mount Mercy (11) and Embry-Riddle (Fla.) (10).