Gelo no heights in the pole vault at the NCAA Championships
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Gelo no heights in the pole vault at the NCAA Championships
TURLOCK, Calif. (Al Brenda Track Facility) -- The weather was less than perfect, forcing Kristi Buerkle (Sr., Stacy, Minn.) and Raphael Gelo (So., Kabetogama, Minn.) to battle through cool, wet conditions in the final day of the 2011 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Al Brenda Track Facility on the campus of California State University, Stanislaus in Turlock Calif.

Buerkle gained All-America accolades in the 400-meter dash, while Gelo failed to record a successful pole vault attempt.

In the final race of her collegiate career, Buerkle, one of the most decorated track and field athletes in Bemidji State history, ran a strong 400-meter dash to finish fourth under the canopy of a rainbow with a time of 55.04 seconds.  

Shannon Gagne of New Haven took the event championship in the final 15 meters with 53.62 seconds.  She edged Virginia State’s Samantha Edwards (53.74) at the tape in front of St. Augustine’s Kelly Shaw (54.65), who finished third.  Fellow NSIC participant Nicketa Coombs for the University of Mary also gained All-America honors placing eighth with a time of 58.35.

Buerkle, the six-time All-America performer also owns the BSU outdoor 200- (24.11) and 400-meter record (53.85) and was a member of the school-record holding 4-by-100-meter relay team (48.90).  Indoors, she holds BSU records at the  60-meter, 200-meter (24.94), 300-meter (40.25), 400-meter (54.76), 600-meter (1:36.53) and 800-meter (2:19.11) distances and ran the anchor leg of BSU’s top 4x400-meter relay team (3:59.95).  She is a five-time NSIC champion, two-time USTFCCCA All-Central Region selection, the 2011 USTFCCCA Central Region Female Athlete of the Year, a former NSIC Female Track Athlete of the Year and is a two-time BSU Student Athlete of the Year.

In the classroom Buerkle has been equally as successful.  In addition to earning Academic All-NSIC honors on nine occasions, she has earned recognition from the USTFCCCA as an All-Academic individual and as a member of multiple All-Academic Teams and was a 2010 ESPN the Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-District V pick.

Buerkle was also among the 2011 outdoor championship field in the 200-meter dash, but failed to make the finals clocking a time of 24.91 seconds to place 19th overall.

After watching his teammates compete for the past 48 hours, Gelo, a BSU sophomore, final got to make his NCAA Outdoor Championship debut today as he participated in the pole vault.

Beginning at 15 feet, 10 inches, Gelo was one of six participants in the 17-competitor field that failed to record a height at the championships.  The Kabetogama, Minn. native had three attempts at the height, but was unsuccessful.

Western Washington’s Ryan Brown was crowned 2011 men’s pole vault champion clearing a staggering 17 feet, 1 and 3/4 inches to edge fellow NSIC participant Jason Beutz of the University of Minnesota Duluth (16-10).

Also participating at the 2011 championships for Bemidji State was Tandy Juell (So., Redwood Falls, Minn.).  Juell gained All-America honors in the decathlon, placing seventh with 6,485 points in his first appearance at the national meet.

The NCAA Championships bring the 2011 season to an end and draws the curtain on the final BSU men’s track and field campaign.   A varsity sport since the 1920s, the Bemidji State men’s track and field team was eliminated earlier this year as a part of University’s plan to address an expected $5 million shortfall for the biennium (2011-2012 and 2012-13).