4×800 men claim No. 1 in NAIA

Multiple qualify for national meet

Freshman Alyssa Campbell competes at the Youngstown College Invitational. Last weekend, Campbell qualified for nationals in the 3,000 meter event.

Photo by Robert Berger

Freshman Alyssa Campbell competes at the Youngstown College Invitational. Last weekend, Campbell qualified for nationals in the 3,000 meter event.

Written By Nick Kasisky, For The Globe

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Last weekend, five indoor track and field runners secured a spot for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Championship in Brookings, S.D.

The men’s 4×800 meter team qualified for Nationals on the first day of the two day SPIRE Midwest Open in Geneva, Ohio. The team completed in the 4×800 event in 7 minutes, 50.50 seconds.

The team consisted of freshmen Jared Thompson,  Doug Kostelansky and seniors Andre Bennett and Xavier Stephens. It was a school record for the team with their previous time being eight minutes flat when the same group raced at Penn State on Jan. 12.

“After three seasons of trying, it really felt good to qualify for nationals and to be able to compete at the highest stage of NAIA,” Bennett said. “It felt rewarding to have the top time so far in the season”.

For Thompson and Kostelansky, this is their first season of indoor track and excited and prepared for the event at Nationals.

“It doesn’t feel real to be honest,” Thompson stated as he described what the moment felt like after qualifying.

When looking ahead at Nationals, Thompson said he looks forward to run his best race and said the team knew they had talent to qualify. Kostelansky is also looking forward to Nationals stating, “It was great to get a big accomplishment like this and to do it with this group of guys makes it even more special.”

Stephens described the feeling of qualifying as “hype.”

The 4×800 team was the order of  Thompson, Bennett, Kostelansky, and Stephens. The group explained that they maintain communicate daily  and have a texting group chat. They discuss their goals and what times they each are aiming to hit that week. Bennett said it is important they all stay on the same page and talk about their expectations.

“At conferences we are going to being spread thin, so this SPIRE meet was our last real shot at qualifying,” Bennett said.

The group will continue their mileage and speed training as they continue on their journey to nationals.

Freshman Alyssa Campbell also qualified for nationals, but on day two of the meet.

“In the 3,000 I went in with a differnt mindset than I normally do,” Campbell said. “I don’t usually take off as fast in the 3K because I don’t want to waste my energy in the first mile.”

Campbell took 19 seconds off her personal record in the 3,000 meter with a time of 10 minutes, 29 seconds.

“I went off faster and I hit my even splits and it was awesome. I ended up with a 19 second PR and hit the qualifying standard so it was really exciting,” Campbell said.

Campbell also ran the mile that day, achieving another personal record when she finished with a time of 5 minutes, 15 seconds.

The women’s team also had athletes compete in the 4×800 event with the team of senior Taylor Celich, sophomores Alyssa Boyd, and Selena Canello and Campbell.

The team set a school record in the event by finishing in 10 minutes, 13 seconds. It was the first time the team competed in the event this season, and Campbell’s first time competing in an indoor 4×800.

Competing at a separate meet last weekend was senior Anna Shields at the Dr. Sander Invite in New York. Shields ran the mile in 4 minutes, 39 seconds. Shields currently has the best mile time in the NAIA. A number of NAIA and NCAA Division I schools competed over the weekend offering  the team a look at upcoming opponents and a chance to compete against top collegiate runners.

“I’m happy about the NAIA schools because they are the main competition in my eyes, and everyone else is just bonus,” Campbell said.

The Pioneers will being traveling back to Youngstown State this week to compete on Feb. 1 for the YSU National Mid-Major Invitational.

Additional reporting contributed by Robert Berger

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