GULF SHORES, Ala. -- The Carroll College track and field team closed out a frustrating day in a big way with both 1,600-meter relay teams advancing to Saturday's finals.
The Carroll women left no doubt. The Saints put up their fastest time of the year and finished second in their heat to automatically advance to the final.
The race came on the heels of a frustrating finish in the open 400. Kara Barth took third in her heat with a time of 56.69 and put up the fifth-fastest time in the prelims, but was disqualified for a lane violation. Monica White was also DQ'd after finishing seventh in the heat.
"It was great to see the girls shake off the frustration from earlier in the day and take care of business this evening," coach Harry Clark said. "They looked sharp and took care of business, they are in the mix for the championship again, and I am really excited for the final tomorrow."
The frustration on the women's side was reversed on the men's. The Carroll men's 1,600-meter relay team finished fifth in their heat but three teams were DQ'd, and the Saints squeaked into the final.
"The guys came in here and ran the fastest race of the year, and that is all you can ask," Clark said. "They were rewarded for their effort, and I think they will take advantage of the opportunity and do something tomorrow."
The Saints struggled to start the day. Carroll heptathletes Crystal Schmidt and Bethany Lacock closed out the competition with Schmidt finishing in 11th place and Lacock in 16th.
Schmidt won the shot put and the javelin but struggled in the running events.
Lacock was in seventh place entering the javelin but scratched on all three throws and dropped to 16th, where she stayed in the final standings.
"We did a lot of great things in the heptathlon, but in the end, they didn't do enough to get on the podium," Clark said. "To be one of the top 16 heptathletes in the NAIA is an honor and it doesn't take away from what they did this season. Bethany was having a monster day, but the wind hurt her in the javelin, and she couldn't get it to land."
Saturday, the Saints start early with the marathon at 6 a.m. with Janie Reid and Layne Ryerson. Both are in the Top 12 in the event and look to do damage in the low elevation and flat course.
Leah Esposito will run the steeplechase in the final race of her storied career. Chance Hyatt enters the 1,500-meter final with one of the top seeds, and the track events will close with the women's 1,600-meter relays.
Chris Emter and Beaugh Meyer will compete in the shot put. Keaton Brady and Gunnar Hilborn will compete in the pole vault and Crystal Schmidt will close out her career with the high jump.
"We hope to shake off the frustration of today with a big day tomorrow," Clark said. "These kids are ready to do some big things on the last day."