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Downs & Castarlenas Win National Titles, 5 Other Trailblazers Race to All-American Honors on Final Day of NJCAA Outdoor Track & Field Nationals

Hutchinson, KS – Sophomores Jordan Downs & Aintzane Castarlenas both won national titles in the pole vault this morning, and 5 other Trailblazers snagged All-American Honors on the 3rd & final day of the NJCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Sophomore Jordan Downs started the day off for VU by capturing his first national title in the pole vault after finishing 3rd in the event at the Indoor National Meet. Down’s jumped an impressive 15’1” in very, very windy, cool conditions. Downs also finished 12th in the long jump. Down’s follows VU Alum Trey Kennedy in winning a national title in the event, and marks the 3rd straight year that a male, Vincennes pole vaulter has won the event at the outdoor national meet. Downs is also the 4th VU pole vaulter to win a national title.

Sophomore Aintzane Castarlenas Martinez acquired Vincennes’ 2nd national title of the morning, and the 2nd national title in the pole vault. Castarlenas battled the wind to come up with the number one spot by clearing a mark of 11’5 ¾”. Castarlenas finished runner-up in the event at last year’s Outdoor National Championships, and 3rd at this year’s Indoor National Championships.

Sophomore Richard Griffith finished 2nd in the pole vault to teammate and national champion Jordan Down’s. Griffith cleared 14’7 ½”, tying his personal best, again, in very windy, cool conditions. Griffith was 4th at the NJCAA Indoor National Meet in the decathlon, and joins Downs as the first pair of VU athletes to finish 1st & 2nd in the pole vault in the same national meet.

Freshman Merica Valdez joined her vault squad teammates in garnering All-American accolades by finishing 3rd in the women’s pole vault. Valdez finished 4th in the Indoor National Meet earlier this spring, and had cleared a mark of 12’1 ½” in her first season as a Trailblazer.

Freshman Jamesha Western collected her 3rd All-American award of the weekend by finishing 6h in the discus with a toss of 144’5”. Western also finished 4th in the shotput, and 6th in the hammer throw earlier in the weekend. Western finishes her freshman year at Vincennes as a 4-time All-American, and ranks in the top-5 in Vincennes University history in all throwing events.

Sophomore Anais Da Silva collected her 11th All-American honor this afternoon by placing 5th in a hard-fought battle in the women’s 5k. Da Silva clocked a time of 18 minutes and 6 seconds in  windy conditions, and managed to move-up well throughout the entire race. Da Silva appears in the top-5 in virtually all Vincennes University school records above 1,000 meters, and holds 5 school records of her own.

Sophomore Varvara Klyuchnikova finished tied for 3rd in the women’s high jump. Klyuchnikova cleared 5’10”, but west unable to clear the subsequent height, bringing her into a 3-way tie for the 3rd position. Klyuchnikova finishes her Trailblazer career as the school record holder in the high jump and triple jump, both indoors and out.

Other big performances on the day included: a 9th place finish in the 4x400m relay team of Kevin Johnson, Gus Lathrop, Michael Trice and Marlowe Mosely in a season best of 3:15.66, Evan Franklin finished 11th in the 5,000-meter run, Freshman Sydney Davidson finished 12th in the 1500 meter run, Freshman Maisie Lay finished 18th in the 800 meter run in a season best, and Wendy Catalan raced her way to a PR in the 5,000 meter run in a time of 19 minutes and 51 seconds.

Coach Gafner said on the national meet, “I thought we competed really well at the meet. Jordan Downs and Richard Griffith made the best of some pretty harsh conditions, and Aintzane and Merica were awesome. I was pleased with our team’s ability to continually out-perform what they were ranked in their events, and I thought we raced hard from wire to wire.”