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Sprinters, throwers look to lead OC women’s track during outdoor season

Katie Ostlund, who set a school record last year in the javelin, figures to be one of OC's top field performers during the 2013 outdoor season.
Katie Ostlund, who set a school record last year in the javelin, figures to be one of OC's top field performers during the 2013 outdoor season.

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 13, 2013) – After about a month off following the conclusion of the indoor season, OC’s women’s track and field team will begin the outdoor season this week. Well, at least most of the Lady Eagles will.

Two team members, multi-events competitor Roz Hamilton and discus standout Makenzie Brown, remain with OC’s women’s basketball team, which is playing this week in the National Christian College Athletic Association Championship in Indiana.

The rest of the Lady Eagles are headed to Winfield, Kan., for their first outdoor meet of the season, the Southwestern College Invitational on Thursday.

During the indoor season, it was the sprinters that led the Lady Eagles. OC’s relay team of Rebecca Bloodworth, Maegan Cowan, Somer Helms and Andrea Dennis will run both the 4x100-meter and 4x400-meter races during the outdoor season. Dennis, Helms and Cowan were part of the squad last year that set indoor and outdoor school records in the 4x400.

“It’s a veteran group, except for Bloodworth,” Heath said. “That’s a really good sprint group, because they can do just about everything from the 100 to the 400, including the relays and open races. As long as that group is healthy, they’ve got the experience and they know what’s needed. It’s a really strong quartet that we’ve got right now. We benefit from them greatly.”

Individually, Cowan will run the open 400, with the others running the 100 or 200 meters. Wilmena Gley and Allana Reames also will compete in the sprints for the Lady Eagles.

OC figures to be particularly strong in two outdoor throwing events, the javelin and the discus. Brown finished sixth in the discus as a freshman to earn All-America honors at last year’s NAIA Outdoor Championships. Katie Ostlund capped her freshman season in 2012 by taking third in the javelin at the NAIA outdoor meet, setting a school record of 146 feet, 7 inches and also earning All-America honors.

The Lady Eagles will have two competitors in the heptathlon – Hamilton and Sarah DiBiasi. Hamilton qualified for last year’s NAIA meet (although an injury kept her from competing) while DiBiasi was seventh in the pentathlon at this year’s NCCAA Indoor Championships.

“That will be good, because they can help each other,” Heath said.

Hamilton also might compete in the open discus, Heath said, just as her father, Walter Hamilton, once did for OC.

After an injury-plagued indoor season, OC figures to have most of its middle- and long-distance runners back for the outdoor campaign. Sophomore Cassandra Hallam was eighth in the 800 meters at the NCCAA Indoor Championships and will run in that event and the 1,500 meters. Her sister, sophomore Jacqueline Hallam, will compete in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters.

Freshman Tara Lewis, who led OC’s cross country team at the NCCAA Championships in November, missed the indoor season but will be ready to run in the 800 and 1,500 meters outdoors, as will Maria Sargent.

Sophomore Noemi Hernandez will focus on the 1,500 and 5,000 meters, assistant coach Wade Miller said.

OC also will be bolstered by the return of senior Erin Sesemann, who regained a season of outdoor eligibility thanks to a hardship ruling. She ran in the marathon in last year’s NAIA meet, but the NCCAA doesn’t offer that event, so her focus likely will be on the events ranging from the 1,500 to the 10,000.

“All of that will be determined as we see where their strengths are and where their abilities and interests are,” Heath said of the middle-distance and distance runners. “They’ll probably run a lot of those different events, but some of it will be speed work for them. Other races will be what they specialize in.”

The team will point toward the McMurry/Heartland Invitational meet April 19-20, then the NCCAA Championships May 2-4 in Joliet, Ill., Heath said.