The Gillette College indoor track and field team got a nice look this weekend at what it can expect in two weeks at the junior college national meet at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.
The young Pronghorns turned in some quality performances Friday and Saturday at the NJCAA Region IX Indoor Championships at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa.
Freshman Mike Nelson of Cheyenne qualified for the 5,000-meter run on Friday with a time of 15 minutes, 31.0 seconds, finishing fourth overall in a quality field. Freshman Makayla Diggs of Box Elder, S.D., won the regional championship in the 5,000 on Friday.
The biggest benefit for the Pronghorns was a chance to gage themselves against Iowa Central Community College of Fort Dodge, Iowa, and Iowa Western Community College of Council Bluffs, Iowa.
"This gave me a pretty good idea of what I need to do at nationals," Diggs said. "Running against this kind of competition is a lot better.
"I'm excited to see the national competition. I don't need to change anything. I just need to try and improve on each lap and improve my split times."
Diggs finished second in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:21.45 in a hotly contested race. Petrene Plummer of Iowa Western won in 2:19.65. Jodi Miller of Iowa Central was third (2:22.44) and Stephanie Uher of Dakota State was fourth (2:23.00). It should be the same test of will in Lubbock, Texas.
"The 800 was pretty tough. I was second, but I had to run my best time to do it," Diggs said. "This gave me a pretty good idea (how they race). I went out with whoever was in front of me and stuck with it to finish strong."
Diggs was third in the mile (5:14.88) behind Hannah Maina of Iowa Central, who won in 5:03.23. She placed fifth (3:14.00) in the 1,000. Fiona McKenna of Iowa Central ran away from the field, posting a 3:02.23 for the regional victory.
In the women's 3,000, Gillette College freshman Myrissa Clark of Rapid City, S.D. placed third (11:00.00) and Pronghorn teammate Reanna Jereb of Rock Springs (11:14.15) was fifth. Brielle Davis of Billings, Mont, placed fifth in the 600-meter dash with a time of 1:41.00.
Nelson earned all-region honors in the mile and Pronghorn freshman Alejandro Garcia of Pine Bluffs earned all-region status in the 3,000.
Tahir Chakisso, Iowa Central, won the 3,000 in 8:31.51. Garcia (9:13.14) was sixth.
"We got a great look at Iowa Central. I'm right with the top three guys in the 5,000," Nelson said. "I'll have to stick with them at nationals to place.
"I really wanted to test my strength this weekend and see where I stand. I felt pretty good time-wise and I know what their race strategies are a little better. I can compete with these guys. I'm not going to hold anything back at nationals."
The Pronghorns will compete at the junior college national indoor track and field meet at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, on March 1-3.
2013 NJCAA Region XI Indoor Championships
Beuna Vista University
Storm Lake, Iowa
Winners and Gillette College results
Mile: 1. Abbabiya Simbassa, Iowa Central, 4:17.30; 5. Mike Nelson, Gillette College, 4:29.77
3,000 meters: 1. Tahir Chakisso, Iowa Central, 8:31.51; 6. Alejandro Garcia, Gillette College, 9:13.14; 8. Matt Jackson, Gillette College, 9:19.36; 10. Gabe Adams, Gillette College, 9:34.39
600: 1. Petrene Plummer, Iowa Western, 1:26.84; 5. Brielle Davis, Gillette College 1:41.00
800: 1. Petrene Plummer, Iowa Western, 2:19.65; 2, Makala Diggs, Gillette College, 2:21.45
1000: 1. Fiona McKenna, Iowa Central, 3:02.23; 5. Makala Diggs, Gillette College, 3:14.00; 6. Brielle Davis, Gillette College, 3:14.00
Mile: 1. Hannah Maina, Iowa Central, 5:03.23; 3. Makala Diggs, Gillette College, 5:14.88
3,000: 1. Jodi Miller, Iowa Central, 9:58.64; 3. Myrissa Clark, Gillette College, 11:00.00; 5. Reanna Jereb, Gillette College, 11:14.15; 8. Shaylee White, Gillette College, 12:22.60; 11. Maria Owen, Gillette College, 13:17.25