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UNK Track Ben Arens Reaches Steeple Finals on Day 1 of NCAA Championships


Ben Arens (CSU-Pueblo_Athletics).
Ben Arens (CSU-Pueblo_Athletics).
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Press release courtesy of UNK Athletics:

Redshirt junior Ben Arens qualified for the steeplechase finals to lead Nebraska Kearney at the 2023 NCAA Division II Outdoor Championships Thursday in Pueblo, Colo.

The three-day meet began today the ThunderBowl with Colorado State-Pueblo serving as host. Action resumes Friday morning at 11:30 a.m. Central with the meet wrapping up around 8:30 p.m. Central on Saturday night. Besides live results, fans can follow along with a free live video stream provided by the NCAA (date changes daily).

Arens (Ainsworth) ran in the second of two heats and made a move at the 1,400-meter mark, going from seventh to first in a span of 400 meters. He finished third in a time of 9:16.75 and ninth overall. In a field of 19, a total of 12 advance to the finals tomorrow at 8:30 p.m. Central. Arens will repeat as an All-American as he earned second-team honors (places nine-12) last May. He joins Loper great Ivan Ivanov (1995 and 1996) as the only two-time D2 steeple AA's. Northwest Missouri's Reece Smith paced the field thanks to a 9:07.06.

Next, McCool Junction senior Luke Stuckey (1,500/3:53.22) and Kearney redshirt freshman Lily Novacek (hammer/183-3) both came in 13th place, just missing AA status. Stuckey finished sixth in the second heat with Evan Graff of Colorado-Colorado Springs (3:52.52) coming in 12th to grab the last finals spot. Novacek recorded her top mark on her second attempt with her third throw going 180-1. Yanielys Torres of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez (183-5) just edged her for 12th place. By way of comparison, Loper hammer All-Americans had similar tosses as Novacek including 2001 National Runner Up Janet Boettcher (179-9) and Tiara Schmidt (9th/183-7; 2021).

Giltner redshirt junior Alex Goracke suffered the same fate in the men's hammer as he uncorked a 193-2 on his third and final throw. That was good for 17th place; Vincent Volpe of Tiffin, Ohio (196-7) grabbed the last All-American spot. UNK's two men's D2 AA hammer throwers had top efforts of 189-6 (Derek Frese, 2005, 6th) and 183-3 (Kellen Jacobs, 2006, 7th).

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Finally, in his first national appearance, Creighton junior Alex Homan didn't get over the initial bar (15-7) in the pole vault. Vlad Malykhin of Harding (Ark.) won the national title (17-10.50) with the 12th and last All-American clearing 16-6.75.

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