LA CROSSE, Wisc. - Calvin junior Katie Diekema blazed her way around the track to qualify for the championship final of the women's 1500 meter run Thursday afternoon at the NCAA III Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Diekema (Kenmore, Wash./Inglemoor HS) posted the second-fastest time in Thursday's prelims with a time of 4:35.88 to breeze her way into Saturday's championship final.
In Thursday's prelim, Diekema sat back in the pack for one lap but moved into the top four in lap two and then ran on the heels of leader Emily Richards of Ohio Northern for the final two laps. Diekema finished just three-tenths of a second behind Richards to steer clear of any traffic coming from behind and ensure herself a spot in the 12-runner championship final Saturday.
"Katie ran a brilliant race," said Calvin distance coach Brian Diemer. "When she had opportunities, she made smart moves and stayed out of any congestion or trouble. She also got in the jet stream of Emily Richards and really moved strongly over the final half of the race. She had a big goal of making it to the finals and now her goal is to run well on Saturday. She has set herself up in great position to do just that."
Diekema's performance came on the heels of a March appearance at the NCAA III Indoor Track and Field Championships where she finished 11th in the prelims of the mile run and missed the finals by two-tenths of a second. "Katie got caught in a bottleneck of runners back in March and she was determined not to let that happen again," said Diemer. "She used her previous experience to aid her race strategy today."
Calvin head track and field coach Bret Otte stated that Diekema is now an experienced veteran at the national level. "Katie had great composure today," said Otte. "She showed that she is now a veteran in the national scene. We are excited for her and look forward to watching her race on Saturday."
Also competing on Saturday was sophomore Allison Rozell (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Northern HS) in the javelin throw. Making her debut at the national meet, Rozell placed 22nd with a throw of 108-0. "Allison gained valuable experience with her first national appearance," said Otte. "She already is talking about being more prepared for the pressures of a national competition in the future."
Also scheduled to compete for Calvin on Friday will be senior Jenna Dyksen (Hawthorne, NJ/Hawthorne HS) in the 100 meter hurdles where she is seeded 14th with a time of 14.39. "Jenna is in good spirits and seems loose and ready for her 100 meter hurdle race tomorrow," said Otte.
The prelims of the 100 meter hurdles are schedule to take place on Friday at 4:30 p.m. (EST).