Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University women's track and field squad got off to a good start in the 2011 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Thursday (May 26) in Turlock, Calif.
The Bulldogs earned two All-America finishes and advanced an additional qualifier to the finals in the first of three days of action at the Al Brenda Track Complex located at Warrior Stadium. The NCAA-II Championships are being hosted by Cal-State Stanislaus and continue with all-day action on both Friday and Saturday (May 27-28).
Junior Tina Muir (St. Albans, U.K.) competed late Thursday night and placed fifth overall to earn All-America honors in the 10,000 meters. She clocked 34:20.99 to break her own school mark. The top eight performers in each event earn All-America recognition. Muir will race again on Saturday night in the 5,000 meters beginning at 11:35 p.m. (ET).
Freshman thrower Jessica Pilling (London, Ontario/Banton) was the first Bulldog to compete and earned All-America honors for the Bulldogs with a seventh-place finish in the hammer throw. Her top toss of 54.33 meters (178-3) represented the second-best performance ever in Bulldog history.
Pilling was among four throwers from the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) to finish among the top seven overall as Grand Valley State's Liz Murphy finished first (193-11), Northwood's Kristin Cameron came in third (186-8) and Alyssa Zokoe of GVSU took fifth place (181-11). A total of 17 throwers competed in the hammer throw at the national meet.
Another Bulldog freshman, Samantha Johnson (Troy), advanced to the finals of the women's 1,500 meters. She finished fifth in the first of two qualifying heats with a time of 4:31.48 overall. Kristin Brondbo of Augustana (S.D.) had the top preliminary time (4:29.13) on Thursday. Johnson's time is third-best on the Bulldogs' all-time outdoor chart and she's among 12 runners who advanced to the championship finals. The finals are scheduled for Saturday at 9:05 p.m. (ET).
Sophomore Alyssa Osika (Waterford/Mott) also took part in the 1,500 meters, but failed to reach the finals after clocking 4:40.30 in the prelims.
Muir and Pilling's All-America performances gave the Bulldogs six points in the team stadings after Thursday's action. Ferris State will not have any student-athletes competing in Friday's second day of action, but will have both Johnson and Muir slated to run in Saturday's night's championship section.
A total of 620 participants, including both 310 men and 310 women, are competing in the championships.
Prior to this year, the Bulldogs last had a student-athlete earn outdoor All-America honors two years ago when both Muir and former Bulldog Mikinzie Stuart brought home top eight finishes in the 2009 NCAA-II Outdoor Championships held in San Angelo, Texas.
Visit the link below for complete up to date results from the NCAA-II Championships: