HUTCHINSON, Kan. – Vincennes University sophomore Kaitlyn Moricz won the second NJCAA Pole Vault national championship of her VU career and sophomore TaPring Goatee claimed her first national crown when she won the Women’s Steeplechase Friday during the 2015 NJCAA Outdoor National Track & Field Championships in Hutchinson, KS.
Also on the second day of the title meet, sophomore Robert Murphy finished second in the Men’s Steeplechase. In addition, sophomore Eric Blackman completed a fourth place performance in the Decathlon.
In team scoring, the VU women were fifth and the men were eighth at the conclusion of Friday’s events. South Plains led both the men’s and women’s fields when things wrapped up Friday. The championship meet continues Saturday with 28 more events.
An elated VU Coach Chris Gafner was understandably excited about the two national championships, a razor-thin runner-up performance and the top 5 in the Decathlon, but he also raved Friday evening about Murphy, Goatee and freshman Kelly O’Shea earning spots in the 1500 Meter Runs’ finals, sophomore Kenneth Lloyd’s seventh place performance in the Javelin and sophomore Lillian Schneider’s 9th place effort in the Pole Vault.
Moricz won in thrilling fashion over the second place finisher - who was seeded higher than Moricz - by vaulting 11 feet, 11.75 inches. Trailblazer sophomore Lillian Schneider also had a top-10 finish in the Pole Vault. Schneider was ninth and missed an eighth place spot in the podium because of the number of misses, Gafner said.
Goatee garnered the championship in the 3000 Meter Steeplechase in 11:08.80 top post a stellar win over second place finisher Victoria Salvadores of South Plains, who ran 11:15.54.
Murphy nearly matched Goatee with a Steeplechase title of his own when he pushed South Plains’ Antibahs Kibiwott Kosgey to a near-photo finish. Murphy’s time was 9:07.91, compared to the winning time of 9:06.79. The distant third place finisher was Colby’s Chris Speaks with a time of 9:22.02.
“Robert almost got it; it was so close,” Gafner said. “(Kibiwott Kosgey) just barely beat Robert, who ran so well. Third place was nowhere near those two guys.”
Lloyd threw the javelin 170 feet, 1 inch, and Gafner said the seventh place finish is notable because Lloyd has only been throwing the javelin for a couple weeks and qualified quickly for the championships.
“KJ was seventh and this was only his third meet throwing it,” Gafner said with a laugh. “He just kind of picked it up and threw it and we thought, ‘Wow, that went pretty far. We might have to put you in this (event).’ This was his third time and he was outstanding.”
Finally, sophomore Hanna Wise had a personal best time in the 200 Meter Dash and freshman Sierra Brown turned in a season-best performance in the 100 Meter Hurdles.