By Murray Evans
JOLIET, Ill. (May 3, 2013) – Throughout the outdoor track and field season, Oklahoma Christian’s Katie Ostlund led the National Christian College Athletic Association rankings in the javelin by a considerable margin.
Nothing changed during the NCCAA Outdoor Championships on Friday outside Joliet Memorial Stadium. Ostlund won the national championship in the event with a throw of 136 feet (41.45 meters), more than 13 feet ahead of runner-up Kayla Struck of York (Neb.).
Ostlund, a sophomore from Mount Hope, Kan., became OC’s first track and field national champion since Denise Mattoon won the weight throw at the NAIA Indoor Championships in 2011. OC hadn’t captured an individual outdoor title since Peggy Murphy won the NAIA marathon in 1993.
Before Friday, Murphy (who also won the 1991 NAIA marathon) and Mattoon (who also won the NAIA indoor weight throw and indoor shot put in 2010) were the only Lady Eagles ever to have won an individual national championship.
Battling a stiff crosswind, occasional light rain and temperatures in the 50s, Ostlund unleashed her winning throw during the preliminary round and none of the other 15 competitors came close the rest of the way.
“I still had to train hard to try and beat myself,” Ostlund said. “I wanted to try my best and be myself. I wasn’t trying to worry about anybody else. I was just trying to work on myself. That was my plan.”
She earned All-America honors for the second straight season, having done so as a freshman by finishing third at the NAIA Outdoor Championships.
Ostlund was the only point scorer for the Lady Eagles on Friday, with the 10 team points she earned putting the Lady Eagles in fifth place in the team race.
“She was ranked No. 1 in the javelin all season, so for her to come and win it makes it a fantastic season for her,” OC head coach Randy Heath said. “She’s been very consistent. She did great today. Our assistant coaches, Dick Anderson and Jeff Bennett, have worked with her all year long and she has improved over last year.”
OC’s 4x400-meter relay team also is guaranteed to score for the Lady Eagles, as it finished seventh out of nine squads in the preliminaries to advance to Saturday’s final. Wilmena Gley filled in on the opening leg of the relay for the injured Roz Hamilton (who had been filling in for the injured Rebecca Bloodworth) and joined Andrea Dennis, Somer Helms and Maegan Cowan as the Lady Eagles posted a time of 4:15.14.
“As banged up as we are, we qualified,” Heath said. “We’ll see what happens tomorrow. We’re just in it for points at this point.”
None of the other Lady Eagles who competed in preliminary events Friday advanced. Ostlund finished 26th of 28 in the hammer with a throw of 105 feet, 10 inches (32.25 meters), while freshman Kara Drewke was 12th in the 18-woman field for the 400-meter hurdles, finishing in 1:11.23.
In the 200 meters, Dennis was 13th among 29 runners with a time of 26.38 seconds. Helms (18th in 26.62 seconds) and Gley (25th in 27.52 seconds) also ran in the race for OC. Cowan was 15th among 23 competitors in the 400 meters in 1:01.16, while Gley was 25th in the 100 meters in 13.44 seconds.