MARION, Ind. -- Mount Mercy sophomore Jenna Higgins
became the first
track & field national champion in school history, winning the
javelin at the 31st Annual Women's NAIA Outdoor Track & Field
National Championships today at the Outdoor Sports Complex.
Higgins, who entered the national meet as the third seed in the javelin, edged Aria Nojima of Concordia (Ore.) with a toss of 150'-3". The throw ranks second in school history and was one inch longer than Nojima's toss. Higgins holds the school record with a throw of 151'-5" at last summer's United States Junior Track & Field Championships.
Higgins is also Mount Mercy's first repeat all-American. She was the NAIA runner-up in the javelin as a freshman. Her 148'-11" toss at the Outdoor Sports Complex last year is now the third-best throw on Mount Mercy's all-time chart.
"It's fitting that Jenna has earned this honor," said Mustang Head Coach Jamie Jimison
. "She's put in a lot of hard work and it came to fruition here. We're proud of everything she has accomplished this year. We're proud of all the girls who competed today."
Junior Jacqueline Kane
, senior Kelsey Hansen
and Mount Mercy's 4x800 meter relay squad also competed on Thursday. Kane set a school record while advancing to the semifinals in the 400 meter hurdles. After entering the national meet seeded 20th, her time of 1:02.33 was fourth out of 25 competitors in the preliminaries. Friday's semifinals are at 5:15 p.m.
Kane teamed up with seniors Beth Ripperger
and Kori Yotter
and sophomore Shelby Daisy
in the 4x800 meter relay. The Mustangs, seeded 20th coming in, ended up 19th after running the race in 9:32.52. That's the second-fastest time in school history.
Hansen, seeded 15th in the hammer throw, finished 12th after a throw of 159'-2" on Thursday morning. It was the third-best toss in school history for Hansen, who owns all of the top 10 throws in school history. Eleven of those have come during her senior season.
Kane races in the semifinals of the 400 meter hurdles on Friday and freshman Wendi Dunn
and senior Erin Behan
compete in the marathon on Saturday at 6:00 a.m.