Two national qualifiers emerge at Bill Bergan Invitational

Stephen Koenigsfeld

The 2012 Bill Bergan Invitational was filled with school records, NCAA records, personal bests and, most importantly, two qualifying times for the NCAA Indoor Championships for the ISU women’s track.

Betsy Saina and Dani Stack both qualified for the indoor championships in the 3,000-meter run on Saturday afternoon. Saina qualified with a time of 9:06.61 and Stack with a time of 9:08.00.

“I’m so excited,” Saina said. “I don’t do the 3K very much; I love doing the 5K, but it was exciting.”

Saina’s time is also the fastest 3,000-meter time nationally all season.

Throughout the entire 10-lap race, Saina and Stack battled back-and-forth along with teammate Meaghan Nelson, who placed third in the event.

“I was just trying to stay relaxed and I really just wanted to make sure I was racing my race and racing the way I feel most comfortable,” Stack said. “I wanted to get through the first mile and then start picking it up.”

And she did just that. Once Saina was back in Stack’s crosshairs, Stack was able to motivate herself to the next level.

“It got me really pumped,” Stack said. “We train together every day so I know I can run with her. My focus was ‘get up with Betsy now.’ She really pulled me a long and helped me run faster.”

Saina ran her own race as well and was unaware of what was playing out behind her.

“I didn’t even realize [she was closing in],” Saina said. “I was just so excited when I look back at it.”

Saina said she wasn’t really worried that her teammate was making up some ground, but she was excited to see her teammate doing well.

Coach Corey Ihmels said he was pleased with everyone’s performances this weekend.

“On Tuesday, I thought we had one of the best practices with the throws and the distance kids and the sprinters all at one time on the track,” Ihmels said. “For those two to run faster than qualifying time, that’s good. We’ve got things in the right spots there.”

Stack said she hadn’t thought much about the qualifying times and just wanted to get out and make progress.

“Going into the race I wasn’t really concerned about the championship time,” Stack said. “I knew I was fit and I didn’t really know where exactly I wanted to run, but I’m really happy. I did exactly what coach told me to do and I feel really good about it.”

The ISU men’s and women’s track teams will continue to compete for championship qualifying times at the New Balance Invitational in New York City this weekend.