All-Americans Armstrong, Marchand pace Hawkeyes

June 12, 2008

DES MOINES, Iowa — The last time Meghan Armstrong, Racheal Marchand and Diane Nukuri competed on the blue oval at Drake Stadium in April, they joined forces and set a school record in the 4×1,600-meter relay. The talented trio was on its own this evening at the NCAA Division I outdoor track & field national championships, each competing in the 10,000 run with Armstrong and Marchand placing sixth and eighth to earn All-American status.

The news was not quite as sweet for Nukuri, who was running in second place most of the race before pulling out with stomach cramps with about a mile remaining. She was feeling fine — although disappointed — after the race.

“It was very rewarding for Meghan and Racheal,” UI head women’s coach Layne Anderson said. “It’s great to finish your career as an All-American. I was proud of the way they battled to the end. They fought hard.”

Lisa Kohl of Iowa State wrestled the lead away from Armstrong on the second lap and never looked back, cruising to victory in 32-minutes, 44.95-seconds. Armstrong’s time was 34:01.87 followed by Marchand in 34:05.87.

The post-race cool down period was a bittersweet time for Armstrong, who became an All-American in track for the third time in her career.

“It’s exciting that Iowa has two All-Americans, but I’m kind of concerned about Diane,” Armstrong said. “I saw her out of the corner of my eye and I don’t know what’s wrong or if she’s OK.”

On a personal note, Armstrong would have liked to have established a career-best time and finished in the top five, but another All-American honor will suffice.

“I had higher expectations, so I’m slightly disappointed right now,” Armstrong said.

Marchand finished her collegiate track career with a season-best clocking and her first All-American honor. She was also an All-American in cross country in 2006 and has one season remaining next fall.

“I’m super-excited because it tops off my senior season of track,” Marchand said. “I knew if I was by Diane and Meghan that I would get a good time so I just went out there and ran with my teammates. I feel more confident when I’m running with them rather than another competitor.”

The Hawkeye women are tied for eighth place with four points after two days of the four-day championships.

Tammilee Kerr made certain the day started out on a bright note for the Hawkeyes. She stunned the field in the javelin with a first-throw toss of 50.49-meters (165-feet-8), which sent her into Saturday’s final in the ninth position (the top 12 preliminary throws advance to the finals). Kerr’s opening throw was a personal best and the second-best effort in school history behind only Alana Redfern, who threw 181-5 in 2003.

“My throw was just easy,” Kerr said. “I had to adjust my run-up from regionals. I just went out there with a little bit of a shuffle. I’ve always wanted to throw 50 (meters) and being relaxed helped.”

Kerr followed that with tosses of 44.91 and 46.66 meters. That means it will be a busy Saturday for Kerr, who will complete the final three of seven events in the heptathlon and also participate in the finals of the javelin.

In the men’s shot put, John Hickey placed 16th with a throw of 57-10 ½ and A.J. Curtis was 20th with a toss of 57-7. Neither Hawkeye advanced to the finals.

“I felt really good and practices have been going well, it just didn’t go well today,” said Hickey, an indoor shot put All-American. “That’s all I can say. I don’t know what happened.”

Curtis was competing for the second time in two days during his first national championships.

“It was a good experience,” Curtis said. “I wish I would have competed better in both events (he threw the discus on Wednesday), but it just didn’t happen for me this year. I’ll work hard and try to come back next year and maybe make the second day in both events.”

Kerr, Renee White and Kineke Alexander will be in action for the Hawkeyes on Friday. Kerr begins the heptathlon at 1 p.m. (100 hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200 dash), Kerr will compete in the triple jump at 7 and Alexander will run the 400 semifinal at 8:15.

Click HERE for the Big Ten Network home page.