Buerkle and Leonhardt set records NSIC Outdoor Championships
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Buerkle and Leonhardt set records NSIC Outdoor Championships
ABERDEEN, S.D. (Swisher Field) -- Paced by school-record performances from Kristi Buerkle (Sr., Stacy, Minn.) and Brian Leonhardt (So., Blaine, Minn.), the Bemidji State University men’s and women’s track and field teams completed the 2011 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Outdoor Championships in eighth and 10th place, respectively.  

The teams wrapped up competition Saturday at Northern State University’s Swisher Field in Aberdeen, S.D. under cool, windy conditions.

Times were slow across the board in the championship’s final day, but that didn’t stop BSU’s All-America sprinter from leaving her mark.  Buerkle captured titles in the 200- and 400-meter dash events and anchored the team’s 4-by-400-meter relay team to All-NSIC Honorable Mention status with a second place finish.  

The senior’s best performance came in the 200-meter dash.  Entering as the top qualifier, she turned in a season-best 24.22 seconds in the final to claim the championship, break her own school record (24.46) and move to 19th on the NCAA Division II performance list in the event.  She also clocked a 56.09 seconds in the 400 to successfully defend her conference title at that distance.

As a member of BSU’s 4-by-100-meter entry, along with Ciarra Robinson (So., Lino Lakes, Minn.), Taylor Sautbine (So., Tamarack, Minn.) and Ashley Larva (Fr., Floodwood, Minn.), the Beavers finished fourth in the 4-by-100 (49.39), before Buerkle, Robinson, Michelle Ohman (So., Prior Lake, Minn.) and Kirsten Maras (Jr., Ramsey, Minn.) finished second in the 4-by-400 crossing the finish line in 4 minutes, 2.75 seconds.

Ohman and Larva also represented BSU on the podium as individuals Saturday.  Ohman scored All-NSIC Honorable Mention honors finishing third in the 800-meter run.  Her time of 2:21.96 was just five hundredths out of second (2:21.91) and two tenths (2:21.76) from the event title in a photo finish.  Larva capped her first outdoor championship in style, taking eighth in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 15.96 seconds.

On the men’s side of the championships, the Beavers were led by Leonhardt.  Despite taking sixth in the hammer throw on day one (156-11), the sophomore thrower, who is also a tight end on the BSU football team, was not done.  He earned all-conference honors in the shot put and discus throw finishing second in each event.  Leonhardt posted a season-best throw of 53 feet, 5 1/2 inches in the shot put, before breaking a four-year-old record in the discus.  His best throw of the day measured 169 feet, 5 inches.  The toss outdistanced Justin Cox’s former school record, set in 2007, by nearly six feet (163-10).

Leonhardt is now provisionally qualified for the NCAA Championships in both events.  He currently ranks 22nd in the discus and 25th in the shot put.

Leonhardt was joined on the podium Saturday by middle-distance runner Eric Schauer (Jr., Langdon, Minn.).  The junior, who qualified for the finals in the 800-meter run with the second-fastest preliminary time (1:59.64), clocked a 2:03.28 Saturday to finish just out of all-conference honors in fourth place.

In addition, late Friday, Raphael Gelo (So., Kabetogama, Minn.) cleared 15 feet, 9 1/4 inches on his fourth attempt in the pole vault to capture third place in the weather-delayed event.  

Another bright spot for the BSU men Friday was Jakob Bissell (Fr., Plymouth, N.H.), who earned fifth place in the javelin.  The freshman posted a personal-best 177 feet, 5 inches to finish two feet beyond teammate Tandy Juell (So., Redwood Falls, Minn.), who took sixth with 175-04.

The BSU men posted 46 points to finish eighth in the team standings, while the BSU women took 10th with 50 points.

Augustana College took the women’s team event, edging the University of Mary (149.50) with 162 points.  The Minnesota State University, Moorhead men held on to their day one lead to win the men’s team title also finishing with 162 points.  St. Cloud State University took second with 106.5.

The NSIC Championships bring to a close the 2011 outdoor season for the bulk of the Bemidji State men’s and women’s track and field teams.  However, a handful of BSU athletes, including both Buerkle and Leonhardt, await the final NCAA Division II performance lists to see if they make the NCAA Outdoor Championship field.  

In addition to Buerkle, who is automatically qualified in the 400-meter dash and provisionally qualified at the 200-meter distance, and Leonhardt (shot put and discus), Juell is provisionally qualified and currently ranks 11th in the decathlon and Gelo is provisionally qualified and ranks ninth in the pole vault.

The NCAA Championships will take place May 26-27 at California State University, Stanisaus’ Al Brenda Track Facility in Turlock, Calif.