Anthony Peters was tested Friday by an improved field of competitors and the heat and humidity of a late May Alabama day.
The St. Ambrose junior mastered both.
Peters earned his second straight NAIA outdoor national championship in the 5,000-meter race walk, helping send the Bees into the final day of competition in a tie for fifth place in the team race at Gulf Shores, Alabama.
“I was able to work the race the way I wanted to,’’ Peters said. “It was what I hoped it would be. It was hot – it always seems to be at this meet – but I guess that’s winning weather for me.’’
Coach Dan Tomlin said Peters performed the way he hoped the junior from Bartlett, Illinois, would in defending the title he won a year ago.
“Anthony walked a smart race. A record wasn’t probable with the heat, but he took care of business. It was a comfortable race for him, nice and easy,’’ Tomlin said. “Our race walkers had a good day. They did what we expected and a bit more.’’
Peters completed the race in 21 minutes, 1.11 seconds, trimming 37.7 seconds off of his winning effort from a year ago when he became the first athlete in St. Ambrose history to earn a championship at the NAIA outdoor finals.
The extra seconds came in handy.
After winning last year by nearly two-and-a-half minutes, Peters’ time Friday at Blackwell Stadium was 1 minute, 22.76 seconds better than the runner-up effort of freshman Alger Liang of British Columbia.
“There were some good athletes in the field. It’s a growing event and that is pushing us all,’’ said Peters, who completed a sweep of 2017 indoor and outdoor NAIA national championships with Friday’s win.
“It’s exciting to be able to go out and show each and every year that I have improved in being able to do what I want to do.’’
That push to improve is even coming from within his own team.
St. Ambrose junior Emilio Mancha finished third in 23:11.76, four spots better than his seed for the NAIA finals.
“He had a good race and it’s been a big help for me to have someone to train with right now. It all helps,’’ said Peters, whose next scheduled competition comes at the United States Track & Field Outdoor National Championships in Sacramento, California in late June.
Michael Ohioze has a chance to end his senior season with All-American honors. The senior from London, England ran the 400 dash in 47.73 to qualify for the finals, where he will be joined by Jack Reemtsma in the 400 hurdles.
Seeded 12th coming in, Ohioze, who missed qualifying in the 200, placed fifth in the 400 while Reemtsma settled for 16th in the 110 hurdles. The Bees' 1,600 relay was disqualified from its heat in the preliminaries.
Former Central DeWitt prep Cole Connell finished the decathlon in 11th place, accumulating 5,918 points.
The Queen Bees had similar success in the 5,000 racewalk. No winners, but three top seven finishers.
Freshman Katherine Newhoff placed third in her outdoor championship debut with a time of 25:59.29. Behind her in fifth and seventh place, respectively, were Jenny Lopez and Cassandra Delgado. Both juniors, Lopez walked in under 26:59.20 and Delgado walked in 27:57.64.
After establishing a new school record in the 3,200 relay in the preliminaries, St. Ambrose fell short in the finals, placing eighth with a time of 9:38.46, 26 seconds slower than in the qualifying round. Brandi Hosford, a Morrison alum, placed 10th in the triple jump with a leap of 37 feet, 10 inches.
Molly Jo Smith, a finalist in the 400 hurdles, finished 18th in the 400 and Nicole Woodall finished 28th in the 800 for St. Ambrose, tied for seventh in the team race with 13 points.