- Men's Sports
- Women's Sports
- Inside Athletics
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - The Friends University Women's Indoor Track and Field team finished their season with a 10th place finish at the NAIA Indoor National Championship Meet on the campus of East Tennessee State University last week. The Falcons brought home the first individual national championship in program history and five other awards.
Chelsea Baker (JR/Pittsburg, Kan.) led the way for the Falcons with three All-American finishes, including a National Tile. Baker, who was named the USTFCCA South Central Region Field Athlete of the Year, won the Pentathlon with a school record and personal best of 3698 points. She then came back on day three of the Championships to earn two more All-American plaques with a 3rd place finish in the 60 Hurdles (8.74), and a 2nd place finish in the High Jump (5'8.5").
Baker was also a national qualifier in the Long Jump (18'1") and Triple Jump (38'1") but chose to target her efforts in the other three events at nationals this indoor season. Baker's 24 individual points earned her the NAIA's Most Outstanding Female Performer of the Meet. This is the first time an athlete from Friends University or the KCAC has received this distinguished honor.
Two other Falcons brought home All-American finishes, both for the first times in their career. Anika Ricks (SR/Wichita, Kan.) won her preliminary heat of the 60M dash in a season best of 7.77 to automatically advance to the finals where she placed 7th overall (two team points). Ricks tied an athlete from Indiana Tech in the prelims, which caused the games committee to go down to the 1/1000th of a second to determine who would make the finals. Ricks official time of 7.767 would beat out her competitor's time by 5/1000th of a second.
Shelby Hundley (SO/Bern, Kan.) brought home the other All-American finish for the Falcons by also winning her heat of the 600M in a season best time of 1:36.91. Hundley finished in 8th place in the finals, which added one point to the Falcons team score.
Lauren Doll (FR/Leon, Kan.) competed in two individual events, making her the first freshman to do so for the Falcons in the last 10 years. Doll finished in 10th place in the Pentathlon with a new personal best score of 3134 (15 points out of 8th), and she came back to finish in 19th place in the Triple Jump (36').
Natali Engle (JR/Goddard, Kan.) competed in three open events (60m, 200m, 400m) despite battling some health issues and finished extremely well. Engle's top finish came in the 200m dash where she finished in 10th place, just two spots away from All-American Status.
The Women's 4x800m relay team of Hundley, Christa Follette (SO/Grinnell, Iowa), Sam Melillo (SR/Wichita, Kan.) and Bethany Vonada (JR/Shawnee, Kan.) ran their best time of the year by almost seven seconds (9:39) to finish the meet in 15th place.
AWARDS and ACCOLADES:
United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Regional Awards:
Chelsea Baker – South Central Region Field Athlete of the Year
Natali Engle – South Central Region Track Athlete of the Year
Dylan Biedron – South Central Region Women's Assistant Coach of the Year
Cole Davis – South Central Region Women's Head Coach of the Year
Chelsea Baker – Friends University National Champions of Character Recipient
Chelsea Baker – NAIA Indoor Nationals Most Outstanding Female Performer
"I am extremely proud of the way our girls competed and represented the university with a high level of class and character at this year's Indoor National Championships", said Head Track and Field Coach Cole Davis. "All that I ever ask is that our athletes give 100% in everything they do, and that is exactly what they did this season. Nearly every single one of our athletes set a personal best on the biggest stage the NAIA has to offer. Chelsea Baker put together one of the greatest performances I have ever seen over a three-day period. Her Most Outstanding Athlete of the meet award will be one that will forever be remembered by myself, this program and the university.
"Tenth place is the highest our program has ever scored at the Indoor National Meet and that gives our girls confidence to move into the outdoor season and chase an even higher finish at the Outdoor National meet in May. This team has set big goals to chase a trophy at there, and I believe that we have a team that is capable of accomplishing that if we continue to challenge each other and grow each day."
The Falcons indoor season has now ended and they will continue to practice and prepare for the outdoor season, which will start on March 17th at Emporia State University. The Falcons will be hosting an outdoor meet again this season on the weekend of April 7-8th.