ORANGE CITY, Iowa – A little nerves didn’t prevent Miranda Velgersdyk from earning a ticket to the NAIA Outdoor National Track and Field Championships.
The Dordt junior sped around the DeValois Stadium track on Thursday afternoon to win the 400-meter dash at the Red Raider Open in 56.01, easily meeting the automatic standard qualifying time for the national meet.
“I was actually pretty nervous before, didn’t think I was going to run that well with the wind,” said Velgersdyk. “It felt really good.”
Velgersdyk’s time moved her to the top of the Great Plains Athletic Conference performance chart and was sixth in the NAIA according to track and field results reporting system.
The Sioux Falls native led off Defenders 4x100 and 4x400 relay victories as the 4x400 quartet of Velgersdyk, Justine Van Zee, Jenna Wilgenburg and Joscelyn Wind has already met the automatic national qualifying mark in last week’s home meet in Sioux Center.
“That feels really good, that’s definitely something that you want to get out of the way right away, just to take the pressure off,” said Velgersdyk, a two-time All-American during the indoor season. “Thankfully, we were fortunate for the 4x400 last week and now the 400. I’m thankful for how this season is going so far.”
Despite cool, windy conditions on Thursday, athletes still put up some strong performances and moved closer to meeting either the ‘A’ standard or ‘B’ standard for the NAIA national championships in Gulf Shores, Alabama at the end of May.
Northwestern junior Katie Landhuis, a MOC-Floyd Valley graduate, won the 800 in 2:17.01, a time that moved her into third in the GPAC, while the two-time indoor All-American also handled the anchor leg of the 4x800 on Wednesday that reached the automatic qualifying time in 9:10.26.
“I could definitely tell I ran hard last night,” said Landhuis, who anchored in 2:14 on Wednesday. “I was a little lacking in energy it felt like it. It felt good to go out and compete on our home track or the first time in a while.”
In fact, the Red Raiders' time ranks second in the NAIA and Dordt, second in 9:13.42, while Morningside was third in 9:18.27. All times that rank third and fourth best in the NAIA, respectively, also reached the automatic standard in the same race.
Landhuis was a member of the Red Raiders 4x800 quartet that earned All-American honors last outdoor season and she is looking forward to seeing how far this group, that on Wednesday included Katie Bosch, Rebekah Muilenburg and Kassidy De Jong, can go.
“We qualified our 4x800 which was a big goal for us, that will be fun to go and compete in that in Alabama, just like to see what we can do in that relay.”
Bosch, the GPAC leader in the 1,500, won that event while teammate Emma Van Meeteren won the 5,000 and Naomi Schimmel the pole vault.
Morningside had seven individual champions in the two-day meet, including the lone individual double winner in sprinter Eleka Joseph, who won both the 100- and 200-meter dashes.
The Mustangs had four individual champions on the men’s side while Dordt had seven and each had an individual move to the top of the GPAC charts during the course of the meet.
Morningside senior Sean Skillern set a 20-second personal best with a 9:47.41 effort to win the 3,000-steeplechase.
“I just went out there, tried to keep even splits, went out easy and tried to push it in the middle and it paid off,” said Skillern. “It was a tough day, tough in the middle of it, I think I can go a whole lot faster than that.”
Dordt senior Sam Wensink, an outdoor All-American in the 800 last spring, won the race Thursday in 1:55.31 and also helped the Defenders reach the ‘B’ qualifying standard in Wednesday’s 4x800, running 7:46.79 to finish third behind Northwestern and Morningside.
The Red Raiders foursome of Tanner Goetsch, Hans Epp, Tim Rose and Peter Hollinger won the race in 7:41.71, the fastest time in the NAIA this spring. Morningside’s 7:44.35 ranks third in the NAIA.
Rose won the 1,500 to become the second in the GPAC this spring to break the four-minute mark, running 3:59.06. Alec DeVries ran third in 4:07.05, but owns the GPAC’s top time of 3:58.68.
Nearly all of the school’s that competed in Orange City will be competing next at the 53rd running of the Sioux City Relays at Olsen Stadium in Sioux City next Friday and Saturday.
The GPAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships are just three weeks away, scheduled for May 5-6 in Fremont, Nebraska.