Pavlus, Pirinelli Are National Champions
Saturday was a banner day for St. Lawrence University women's track and field at the NCAA Division III Championships at DePauw University in Greencastle, IN.
Senior Alyssa Pirinelli and junior Wendy Pavlus each won national championships on Saturday, Pirinelli in the shot put and Pavlus in the 5000 meters. Coupled with a championship by Eric Jones in Saturday's men's weight throw, the two titles on Saturday gave the Saints an unprecedented three in the same meet. All four Saint competitors in the championships had All America finishes as Dan Ramsey was fifth in the men's 5000 on Saturday. Pirinelli also had an All America finish in Friday's women's weight throw.
The success of the Saint duo resulted in the first national hardware for the Saint women's track program as they cmbined to score 24 points, giving the Saints a third place finish in the 59-team field. Wartburg won the meet with 33 points and Wisconsin Oshkosh was second with 29.
Pavlus became the first Saint woman with two national titles in the same year, following up her championship in the NCAA Division III cross country championships in the fall with the 5000 meter win. Pavlus and Pirinelli are the second and third women's national champions in track and the first since Karen LaMora won the 1997 400 hurdles outdoors.
Pirinelli, who went into the meet with the best throw in the nation thus far this season, had the five best throws of the competition. Her winning throw of 14.63 meters (48-0) came on her second throw of the qualifying round. She threw 14.04 on her first throw of the event and then hit 14.63 before finishing the qualifying round with a 14.60 throw. Her throws in the finals were 14.29, 14.35 and 14.44 meters. Sarah Reasoner of Calvin College finished second with a 14.12 meter throw.
"I think I threw pretty well today," said Pirinelli "Someone matched my first throw so I knew I had to throw better. I expected a challenge, but no one stepped up and challenged me. This is my senior year andmy goal was aiming for a national title indoors. I finished second or third the last three years so winning this title is an amazing feeling."
Pavlus, who went into the meet ranked seventh nationally, hadn't run the 5000 since meeting the provisional qualifier mark at Boston University on Jan. 29. She ran the mile throughout the month of February as a plan to help with her speed for the longer distance, and it paid off. She ran a personal best and SLU record 16.59.40, the only sub-17:00 time in the nation this season to win by just under two seconds over Kerry Arouca of Westfield State, who had the best time in the nation going into the event.
"The pace went well. It wasn't too fast or too slow for how I run. I waited and stayed with the top few girls to see what I could do," said Pavlus "In the last 400 I put it all out there. I came in sixth last season and ended with a personal record today. In outdoor I plan on doing a couple 5s and maybe try a 10."
Ramsey became a two-time All America as a junior as he followed up a fourth place finish in the fall cross country championships with his fifth place finish in the 5000. He ran 14:52.14, a little over four seconds off the winning time of 14:47.97 run by Kyle Brady of North Central.