GULF SHORES, Ala. -- The Carroll College track and field team closed out the NAIA National Championship with 14 All-Americans, a 14th-place finish for the Carroll women and a 15th-place finish for the men.
The Saints picked up 13 All-American honors on the day, and started early with a third-place finish by Janie Reid in the marathon -- which began at 6 a.m. in brutal humidity and heat.
She finished her first-ever marathon with a time of 3:08:02.50, fewer than 30 seconds behind the second-place finisher.
“It was a super gutsy performance by Janie,” distance coach David Morris said. “It was her first marathon ever, and she almost hit her goal pace on a tough day. She really came through.”
The next event of the day was the last race in the storied career of Leah Esposito, and she put up a gem of a performance in taking second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 10:47.05.
Esposito started the race back in the pack but slowly started to move up. She appeared destined for a third-place finish, but the competitor in second stumbled on the final barrier and Esposito passed her for the No. 2 spot.
“I knew the heat was going to take a toll, so I sat back in the pack and started to move up,” Esposito said. “I got into fourth and I felt really good about that, but I kept moving up and finished the way I wanted to finish. It is a great way to close out my career.”
Chance Hyatt took fifth in the 1,500 with a time of 3:52.68. Chris Emter finished sixth in the shot put with a personal best throw of 55-4.25. Keaton Brady finished sixth in the pole vault with a vault of 15-9 to earn All-American honors in his first trip to nationals.
All three will return next season for the Saints.
“I was thinking about what we have coming back and who we are bringing in next season, and it made me excited about the future of Carroll track and field,” head coach Harry Clark said. “These guys have a lot of room to grow. I look forward to what we can do to build on what we have done.”
The final events of the day were the final events for the Saints. The women’s 1,600-meter relay team finished fourth with a time of 4:46.18, the fastest of the season for the quartet.
Kara Barth crossed the line as the anchor leg for Carroll to close out a stellar career.
“Like Leah, she is a program starter,” Clark said. “She set the tone for the 400-meter runners and the sprinters in general. She carried herself in a way that set her apart. She will be missed on our team, but she left the program in a great spot.”
The men’s 1,600 team finished sixth with a time of 3:17:38, just three-hundredths of a second off of fifth-place Olivet Nazarene.
The group includes two juniors, a sophomore and a freshman.
“We are excited to see what kind of improvement we can make with this group over the next year,” Clark said. “There is a lot of potential with this group.”