Caroline McMartin

Caroline McMartin had 16 points Saturday for Central at the ARC Championships

DECORAH — A balanced scoring attacked helped the Central College women’s track and field team to third place and its best finish at the American Rivers Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships in eight years.

The Dutch finished with 103 points and in the top three for the first time since a runner-up effort in 2015. Loras College won with 243 points.

“It was a good team effort” coach Brandon Sturman said. “We had to dig deep and fight for every point. I must give a lot of credit to our distance runners because that’s what turned the tide.”

Caroline McMartin (junior, Pella) added two more runner-up finishes to her weekend in the 1,500-meter run (4:33.23) and 5,000-meter run (17:52.26). She previously took second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase on Friday.

“It’s impressive to do those three events in general,” Sturman said. “To get second place in all three speaks volumes to all her hard work. I’m looking forward to her next few weeks.”

Megan Johnson (junior, Parkersburg, Aplington-Parkersburg HS) was third in the 5000 meters (17:53.05) and eighth in the 1500 meters (4:42.07). Hailey Hill added a seventh place run in the 5000 (18:38.28).

“We knew we needed every point today and that’s what Megan did for us in the 1500,” Sturman said. “She was a little dinged up after the steeplechase, but she had a really strong finish in the 5K.”

A third-place finish in the 4x100-meter relay put a young Central squad on the podium. Mary Gustason (freshman, Marion, Linn-Mar HS), Abbi Roerdink (junior, Tiffin, Ohio, Hopewell-Loudon HS), Willa Sickelka (freshman, Primghar, South O’Brien HS) and Emily McMartin (freshman, Pella) became the fifth-fastest quartet in school history in 47.83 seconds.

“We broke 48 seconds finally,” Sturman said. “We’re giving ourselves a chance to compete for a national spot. We’re building some momentum and have room to improve.”

Roerdink also finished on the 400-meter dash podium, taking third in 57.19 seconds. It’s the eighth-fastest mark in program history. Lauren Brown (junior, Underwood) placed eighth in 1:01.87.

“Abbi had a big weekend,” Sturman said. “She had a lot of big goals coming out of the indoor season. She’s running well right now.”

Roerdink led off the fourth place 4x400-meter relay squad also featuring Abby Gruver (junior, Sully, Lynnville-Sully HS), Sickelka and Brown that finished in 3:58.63.

Emily McMartin added a seventh-place finish in the 100-meter dash (12.47 seconds) and an eighth-place finish in the 200-meter dash (25.59 seconds). Gruver was sixth in the 400-meter hurdles in 1:05.01. Olivia Bohlen (freshman, Belle Plaine) was sixth in the 100-meter hurdles in 15.84 seconds. Cali Coffman (senior, Leawood, Kan., Blue Valley HS) was fifth in the pole vault by clearing 9-6.25.

Central hosts a heptathlon last chance meet on Tuesday and Wednesday and is set to send athletes to the Augustana Twilight Qualifier in Rock Island, Illinois on Thursday.

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