MARION, Ind. - Friday was a busy day for members of the Ashford University track and field team at the 2012 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships as five individuals and three relay teams returned to the track at Indiana Wesleyan University.
One NAIA All-American was crowned while two other members of the men's team and one women's racer finished their respective seasons' off with top ten finishes in the nation.
Junior Christian Awah grabbed the eighth seed during men's 110-meter hurdles semi-finals before matching his position and earning NAIA All-American status in the finals of the event when he stopped the clock at 14.77. It marks the second outdoor All-American for Ashford University in school history.
"After Christian's semi-final heat, we understood the importance of running through the line as his lean at the finish is what got him into the finals," said Head Coach Chris Adams. "Doing so in the finals is what made him an All-American. I'm proud of the perseverance he showed in order to make it through the qualifying rounds."
Race walker Aleksander Jakobsen took ninth place in the men's 5,000-meter race walk when he crossed the finish line in a time of 27:19.77. The Rock Island, Ill-native finished less than a minute behind the eighth-place walker from Cornerstone University, the final All-American spot.
Fellow junior and teammate, Austin Smith, also just missed becoming an All-American when he finished in a tie for ninth place in the men's high jump competition. Smith, a Port Byron, Ill.-native, cleared 1.98 meters (six feet, six inches) to finish in the four-way tie.
On the women's side, lone individual runner, Myelle Vann, took tenth in the semi-finals of the women's 400-meter dash. Vann broke her own school record when she clocked a time of 56.35, but just missed the cut for Saturday's finals. The top nine times were taken into the final scheduled for 4:10 p.m. eastern time on Saturday.
"It means a lot to have quality returners with experience at the National Championships," continued Adams. "To have three with top ten finishes, it goes a long way to establish a winning tradition."
The final individual competing on Friday was senior multi's athlete Justin Ludwikowski in the men's decathlon. Ludwikowski, hailing from Roland, Iowa, finished 14th overall in the event with 5,808 points and helped his cause with a sixth place finish in the 110-meter hurdles after notching a time of 15.35.
The men's 4x100-meter relay team finished 16th place (42.44) in the event semi-finals while the women's 4x100-meter relay team finished 17th in the semi-finals (48.79). The women's 4x400-meter relay team took 15th place in the semi-finals after posting a 3:53.39, setting a new AU school record.
The NAIA Championships conclude on Saturday for Ashford University when three individuals take their turns competing among the nation's elite.
At 6 a.m. eastern time, Doug Powers opens the men's marathon competition before Mike Malone and Emmanuel Panchol take to their respective runways at 1 and 1:30 p.m. eastern. Malone will be competing in the men's pole vault while Panchol battles for the men's triple jump crown.