After a long, grueling and testing season, two Seattle Pacific athletes ran in the NCAA Division II Championship meet last weekend in Allendale, Michigan.
Junior Lynelle Decker made it in the 800 meters and junior Anna Patti made it in the 5,000 meters. The meet started on May 21, but both Falcon runners competed on May 22 and Decker raced in finals on May 23.
Decker finished seventh with a time of 2 minutes, 8.42 seconds, about six seconds off Simon Fraser’s Lindsay Butterworth time of 2:02.88.
“Lynelle has worked extremely hard,” head coach Karl Lerum said. “She trains year round and has become a faster runner [because of it].”
Lerum was keen to point out that Decker has also become a better racer due to key mental improvements.
“[Lynelle is] making better decisions,” Lerum said. “[She] has a plan and is sticking to it.”
By finishing in the top eight, Decker hit another milestone mark, earning All-American honors for the first time in her collegiate career.
“[For Decker] to score the All-American is honestly outstanding,” Lerum said.
Patti raced about an hour after Decker in the 5,000-meter race and finished in a time of 17:27.45 coming in 19th. Though not the result Patti was looking for, Lerum notes that just making it to the national meet is itself a huge accomplishment.
“Anna went and raced hard,” Lerum said. “[It] wasn’t the result she had set out for, [but] she definitely finished her season in a strong way at the national meet.”
With Decker’s two points, the Falcons have now scored at the National Championships for the 34th year in a row.
This means SPU has scored in every meet since the NCAA took over the women’s track and field championships in 1982. Such an accomplishment has only been achieved by one other school, St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Both juniors, Patti and Decker have another year to finish higher up the national list.
Lerum already sees how these championship races can help his athletes improve and come back ready for next year.
“I think that this [meet] will give Lynelle an increased focus,” Lerum said. “She [could very well] come back as one of the top 800 runners in the country next year.”
For Patti, Lerum has already seen significant changes.
“Anna just made a big transition this year from being a good conference runner to a dominant one,” Lerum said. “Now, [she is] a national level athlete. [I know she can compete in] national meets next year.”