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Wade Deep for Victory

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April 13, 2006
Gary Pine
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AZUSA, Calif.. –- In the most competitive environment of her young career, Bettie Wade was hardly rattled. The University of Michigan freshman grabbed the early lead today and held off all contenders to win the California Invitational Heptathlon at Azusa Pacific University in Southern California.

Wade tallied 5,147 points in her first-ever collegiate decathlon.

First-day leader Annett Wichmann of Hawaii, who opened the day with a 10-point lead over Wade, pulled out of the competition after coming down with an overnight virus. Wade took advantage of the opportunity and quickly assumed the overall lead by winning the long jump with a leap of 18’ 10 ¾”. Wade opened up a 116-point lead over Cal State Northridge sophomore Brittany Ricketts and continually pulled away from the competition before settling for a 191-point victory over Cassi Merkley of Idaho State who finished second with 4956 points.

Wade clinched her victory by running a fine 2:26.64 in the 800, edging Colorado State’s Emily Pearson, who with a 2:29.67 in the 800 finished third overall with a personal best of 4,951 points. Ricketts finished fourth with her personal-best tally of 4,865 points.

In the Mt. SAC Relays Heptathlon, former Western State College standout and Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference record holder Reidun Wallin rallied from 99 points down going into the 800 meters to win the meet with 5,580 points. Wallin used a 2:17.07 in the 800 meters to come back and beat meet-long leader Lauryn Jordan of Oregon, who had led the competition since yesterday’s shot put. However, Jordan clocked a 2:36.74, nearly 20 seconds behind Reidun and fell from first to fourth, finishing with 5,426 points.

Former 2-time NCAA All-American Jackie Poulson was second with 5,468 points while Kalinda McFadden, a redshirt freshman out of Oregon, was third with 5,428 points, thanking in part to a sizzling 2:15.12 in the 800 meters, second best among the 17 competitors. McFadden and Jordan nearly missed automatically qualifying for the NCAA Championship meet, but they join San Diego State’s Kristi Olafsdottir, who was fifth with 5,402 points (Icelandic national record), who all reached the provisional standard and are within 100 points of the automatic standard.

Colorado State junior Kevin Johnson overcame first-day leader Cal State Northridge junior Justin Johnson (no relation) in the pole vault and then used a fine throw of 155’ 10” in the javelin to widen his gap and held on for the victory in the California Invitational Decathlon, tallying a near-200-point personal best of 6,958 points. Brian Walsh of the Air Force Academy was second with 6,901 points, and Justin Johnson finished third with 6,846.

Former NCAA champion Ryan Harlan put the cap on a long day by holding on to win the Mt. SAC Relays Decathlon wtih 7,681 points, edging second-place Joe Cebulski, who had 7,649 points, and Seattle Pacific's Chris Randolph, who finished with 7,621 points.

Harlan led for 8 of the first 9 events but a 5:34.04 1500 meters nearly cost him as Cebulski and Randolph were approximately a minute faster than Harlan.

Long Beach State junior Chris Richardson was fourth with 7,605 points, automatically qualifying for NCAA championships after recording a personal decathlon best in all 10 events.

The Mt. SAC Relays Decathlon didn't finish until 11:45 p.m. (PDT) with 34 people still in attendance, cheering on the final 13 competitors.