Setting the pace for the entire race, Courtney Anderson and Marina Vorderbruegge teamed up to run away with the 1500-meter run as Anderson captured the NCAA Division II national championship in the event Saturday late afternoon at Grand Valley State.
Anderson capped off her career with a record setting performance in the 5,000-meter run for another All-American award to help the Warriors finish a program-best eighth in the team standings.
A senior from Folsom, Anderson became the Warriors' first national champion in outdoor track and field since 2005. Chaunte Mitchell won back-to-back titles in 2004-05 in pole vault. Anderson is the first Stanislaus athlete to win on the track since 1994 when Carrie Luis won four championships from 1993-94 in the 800m and 1500m.
The title is also the Warriors' first national championship in any sport since 2009 (Kasey Burlingham, Men's Pole Vault).
Then, two and a half hours later, Anderson capped off her tremendous collegiate career with a personal best and school record performance in the 5,000-meter run to finish fourth for another All-American award.
In the 1,500-meter title run, Anderson lived up to her top seed time, and the decision to focus on two of the four events she qualified in, with an impressive run by winning in a time of 4 minutes, 23.33 seconds. She was definitely helped by best friend and teammate Vorderbruegge, who sprinted with her the entire way until Anderson dashed ahead in the final 20-meters.
"I obviously would not have done this without Marina. For the past three years we've practiced next to each other and today from the gun we found each other and it felt just like practice," Anderson said.
Vorderbruegge came in second, exactly two seconds later in a season-best time of 4:25.33, for an All-American award. Alaska Anchorage's Ivy O'Guinn was third, more than three seconds behind Anderson in 4:26.70. Chico State's Ayla Granados, Anderson's closest competitor during the CCAA season, was 10th in 4:33.61.
Holding the inside track the entire way, Anderson had Vorderbruegge by her side for about 1,300-meters, shielding any runners from closing in on her position closest to the rail. As a couple of challengers tried to pass on the outside, the duo of Warriors got stronger and held-off any serious threat.
Finally, around the final turn, both Warriors sprinted ahead for the strong 1-2 finish.
Then, they sprinted to their All-American coach Diljeet Taylor, the West Region head coach of the year, to celebrate.
"This was a testimony of faith and trust. When coach Taylor told us this plan a year ago, I knew that she would help take us (here)," Vorderbruegge said. "Being able to say that I've trained with Courtney Anderson, the fastest runner in Division II, is such a great honor and blessing. Nothing will compare to this moment when two best friends can share something so special as this."
In the 5,000-meter run, Anderson went out strong and stayed with the lead group. After being boxed in during the middle of the race, she went around the outside for a surge to separate herself for the some-what unexpected finish, only because she had qualified 15th in the event. But she ran a career-best time by 13 seconds for the fourth place finish in a new Cal State Stanislaus school record time of 16:36.42.
The USTFCCCA West Region Track Athlete of the Year and Cal State Stanislaus Female Athlete of the Year had also qualified in the steeplechase and 3,000-meter race, but together with Taylor, they opted to focused on the two events she excelled in on Saturday.
"I had so much faith in coach Taylor's workouts," Anderson added. "I knew if we went out there and did our best that no one could stop us. It was so wonderful to have Marina right by my side!"
With the great performances by distance duo and Channing Wilson in javelin, plus Sian Morgan's All-American finish in the pole vault on Thursday, the Cal State Stanislaus women's team finished eighth with 24 points — the best in program history, surpassing the previous best of 16th from 1992.
Wilson contributed to the team scoring on Saturday with her second straight All-American finish in the women's javelin.
Wilson placed eighth with her top throw on the day of 45.90-meters or 150 feet, 7 inches, which came in attempt number two during the final flight. She racked up her second consecutive All-American finish after posting a seventh place finish a year ago in Pueblo, Colo.
Western Washington's Bethany Drake won the women's javelin with a 50.36-meter throw (165 feet, 3 inches).