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Junior Ellie Willging won her heat at the NAIA Indoor Track & Field National Championships with an overall best time of 17:30
Junior Ellie Willging won her heat at the NAIA Indoor Track & Field National Championships with an overall best time of 17:30
CCAC - Fri, Mar. 3, 2017

Johnson City, Tenn. – Saint Xavier University junior Ellie Willging (Freeport, Ill./UIC/Freeport) won her heat by 10 seconds and turned in the overall best time (17:30.25) in the semifinals of the women's 5K (5,000 meters) Thursday afternoon on day one of the three-day 2017 NAIA Indoor Track & Field National Championships at the David E. Walker Track at Gentry Field in Johnson City, Tenn.  Twelve runners from the two heats advance to Saturday's finals race set for 3:35 p.m. (eastern).  Willging's time was five seconds better than the next faster competitor in either heat.  Junior teammate Sierra Downey (Stickney, Ill./Morton College/Morton West) also competed in the 5K semifinals for SXU Thursday turning in a time of 18:36.98. 

"Ellie has had an incredible season leading up to tomorrow's finals," said SXU women's track & field coach Lisa Ebel.  "She has worked hard, raced smart and is ready.  Watching her race is always a fun experience, because you can see how much she loves this sport.  I'm looking forward to seeing her classic smile as she competes tomorrow."   

Senior Nicole Watkins (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett) is set to compete for the Cougars this afternoon at 4:15 p.m. (eastern) in the semifinals of the 1,000 meter run.  She will attempt to qualify for Saturday's finals race at 2:25 p.m. (eastern).  Sophomore Alex Lambros (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) also competes Saturday for SXU in the preliminaries and finals rounds of the triple jump, which kick off at 10 a.m. (eastern).