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Jimmies at NAIA indoor nationals

Kaiann Arellano1 / 2
Matt Young2 / 2

University of Jamestown's Kaiann Arellano should be in the hunt for a top-five finish in the women's indoor pentathlon starting today, March 1, in Pittsburg, Kan.

The Jimmie senior, and former Jamestown Blue Jay, is one of seven University of Jamestown athletes competing in this weekend's NAIA indoor track and field national championships. Arellano returns to indoor nationals a two-time All-American after placing eighth in the pentathlon and seventh in the high jump last season.

She'll be on the track today at noon at the Robert W. Plaster Center competing in the first event of the pentathlon: the 60-meter hurdles. Arellano's top pentathlon score of 3,387 sits third in the country.

"I think we'd be ecstatic if she were in the top three," said University of Jamestown head women's track and field coach Megan Kuehl. "Kaiann can have a great day and win; she could have a good day and get third; or she could have a bad day and still be All-American."

Friends University's (Kan.) Chelsea Baker is the the defending pentathlon champion and has posted a top score of 3,776 in the event this season. Arellano is also tied for 11th nationally in the high jump at 5-foot-5. The top eight finishers in each men's and women's indoor event receive All-American nods.

"Kaiann's just such a good athlete and a tough competitor," Kuehl said. "I have no doubt she's going to walk away form this with a good experience that will also help going into the outdoor season."

The Jimmie women's 4x400 relay team will take to the track for preliminaries this afternoon. The team consists of juniors Hannah Christenson, Emily Stier and sophomores Kylee Voigt and Julia Johnson.

Johnson is an alternate on the team replacing Arellano, who'll be busy with the pentathlon. Johnson will also be competing in the triple jump where she ranks 21st (36-11).

Jamestown's 4x400 relay teams' qualifying time of 4 minutes, 1.86 seconds sits 13th out of 19-team field at nationals. The Jimmies will need to crack the top nine to make the finals.

"It will be a challenge, but they've got a chance and four minutes to try and make it happen," Kuehl said. "They're such a tough group of girls, and so persevering. It's going to be fun."

University of Jamestown's current record holder in the women's 20-pound weight throw, Paulina Haak, is in this week's list of field event competitors. The senior from Linton has tossed a second-best 52-7.75, which ranks 27th. Her school record stands at 52-9.25.

"Everyone but (Stier) is a returning national qualifier," said Kuehl, who led the Jimmies to a fourth North Star Athletic Association indoor conference championship in a row two weeks ago in Brookings, S.D. "It's really nice to have that nationals experience under your belt."

Matt Young, a junior from Woodland, Wash., will represent the Jimmie men's indoor track and field team this weekend in Pittsburg, Kan. He'll be competing in the 5,000-meter finals Saturday.

Young ranks ninth of the 16 runners competing, having set the Jimmie men's record in the 5,000 in 15:10.10 earlier this winter.

Michael Savaloja

Hometown: Churchs Ferry, N.D.; College: North Dakota

A recipient of the NDHSCA Award of Merit, Savaloja has been reporting sports for The Sun since 2008.

Follow on Twitter: @MichaelSavaloja

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