GULF SHORES, Ala. – Waldorf University women's track and field athlete Peyton Russell closed out the season strong during the opening day of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Outdoor National Championships on Thursday.
Russell placed 14th in the javelin, delivering a throw of 39.51 meters (129 feet, 7.75 inches) while making her national-meet debut at Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium.
Entering the national meet, Russell was coming off a runner-up finish in the North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) Outdoor Championships. The junior from Bedford earned all-conference honors for the second straight year with a mark of 38.19 meters (125 feet, 3.5 inches) earlier this month at Jamestown, N.D.
In a breakout season, Russell advanced to nationals when she captured first place during last month's Dick Young Invitational as she fired the javelin 39.95 meters (131 feet, 0.75 inches) at Grinnell. She hit the NAIA's national-qualifying B standard to become Waldorf's first-ever female outdoor national qualifier and improved her outdoor school record by 2.38 meters (7 feet, 9.75 inches).
Valley City State University's Seri Geisler and two-time NSAA champion claimed her second consecutive national title in the javelin, hitting a distance of 52.68 meters (172 feet, 10.25 inches). Geisler bested last year's championship-winning performance of 51.37 meters (168 feet, 6.43 inches).
Wayland Baptist University, which is ranked No. 1 in the latest United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) poll, secured its second national championship with 75 points to finish ahead of No. 2 Indiana Institute of Technology (56) by 19 points. Ninth-ranked Southern University at New Orelans (42) earned third, No. 7 University of British Columbia (41) placed fourth, No. 5 Wiley College (39) took fifth while No. 3 Concordia University (36), No. 4 Hastings College (32), No. 17 University of St. Francis (29), No. 8 Siena Heights University (25) and No. 14 Westmont College (24) rounded out the top 10 in the team standings.
It was a solid end to the season for Russell, who was just 0.44 meters (1 foot, 5.32 inches) short of her personal-record (PR) mark. Competing at nationals motivates her to continue working hard with the goal of returning to Gulf Shores and upping her performance as a senior.
"Although Peyton didn't throw a new PR, she did really well," Waldorf interim head coach Kaylen White said. "It was a great experience for her to throw here against good competition and this will really help her for next year's nationals when she comes back."