Drake Relays: Loras' Audrey Miller takes first in her 10K debut

NCAA D-III runners go 1-2 as Cornell's Abrah Masterson finishes runner-up

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DES MOINES — Audrey Miller’s only goal for her first 10,000-meter race at her first Drake Relays was a time of 35:02.

“Which, I didn’t even think I could run that,” the Loras sophomore said.

She did even better.

Miller moved up from eighth halfway through the race, then took the lead with under 1,000 meters left and claimed the title in 34:53.98 Thursday at Drake Stadium.

“It came up so suddenly. I didn’t realize (who) was leading,” Miller said. “(Fort Hays State’s Micki Krzesinski, who finished fourth) was pretty far ahead but I just had to maintain my stride and ended up catching her, which was very surprising to be honest.”

It was Division III’s day in the 10K, as Cornell’s Abrah Masterson — who was fifth last year — used a strong final kick to take second in a personal-best 34:59.25. Those times rank third and fourth in D-III this season.

“To have two Division III girls take 1-2 is a win in my book for everybody involved,” Masterson said. “It’s a testament to the hard work that Division III athletes put in.”

Masterson and Miller have raced together a handful of times in the past and used that familiarity to make a move to the top pack together with around 10 laps remaining.

“I know Abrah could probably do it because she’s just a phenomenal runner, but to be up there with her was just incredible,” Miller said. “She gave me a really big hug, so that was awesome.”

Miller also got a bear hug from her mom in the stands afterward. She drove seven hours from Appleton, Wis., and, as is her routine, shouted out her daughter’s place each time she went by. Miller flashed a smile with every lap as her coach read off her splits.

“I tried to get my mind off the race because I think if you are focused on it for the whole 35 minutes it gets kind of tedious,” Miller said. “If you look around a little bit and look into the stands — I know you’re not supposed to look around a whole lot when you’re running, but I do that just to get my mind off running.”

Thursday’s distance carnival ended with a bang as Drake’s Reed Fischer set a school record in the 5,000 (13:48.32), then was swarmed by his teammates on the track.

Iowa’s Ian Elkin took fourth in the men’s 10,000 in 29:47.06, behind winner Drew White of Missouri (29:41.10).

Iowa State’s Bethanie Brown was unable to defend her title in 5,000, finishing 12th in 16:26.72. Jaci Smith of Air Force won in 16:04.68.

Clinton native Kurtis Brondyke, now competing with The Other Guys Track Club, claimed his second Drake Relays decathlon title (2014) with 7,600 points. Iowa State’s Wyatt Rhoads, son of former ISU football coach Paul Rhoads, won the 1,500-meter run portion of the decathlon in 4:27.59 and finished sixth overall with 6,471 points.

Alex Gochenour, who prepped at Logan-Magnolia before a career at Arkansas, swept the heptathlon events. Competing unattached, she finished with 5,740 points. Iowa State’s Emma Whigham was the top college performer, taking third (5,200).

l Comments: (319) 398-8252; nathan.ford@thegazette.com

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