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National Champions: Women's 4x400m Relay makes CMU History

Torres also smashes school-record to take second in men's mile

The Colorado Mesa University indoor track and field program had a history-making day as the women's 4x400-meter relay team of Jill PayneMica JenretteSierra Arceneaux and McKenna Molder won the NCAA Division II National Championship while Tony Torres was the national runner-up in the men's mile on Saturday, March 13, at the Birmingham CrossPlex.
Both accomplished the feats in record-smashing fashion.
The relay quartet is the first Maverick relay to ever earn all-America honors, let alone a national championship.  The members are also the first female national champions in CMU NCAA history and join Spencer JahrNolan Ellis and Ethan Harris as the only track & field national champions in the Mavs' history.
Two wrestlers— including Fred Green, who won his title on Saturday evening in St. Louis, Missouri, and men's diver Ammar Hassan, a 4-time national champion, are the only other Maverick student-athletes to win NCAA Division II titles. 2015 wrestling champion James Martinez was the first.
The relay quartet posted a time of 3.47.09 seconds to win the second of three heats and then watched that time stand up as the top-four seeded squads, who were in the last heat, could not beat it. Each of the Mavs' four relay legs posted progressively faster splits with Molder, the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference 400-meter champion, bringing it home in 55.39 seconds.
The same quartet had set the former Maverick record of 3:52.62 two weeks ago to win the RMAC title. That time, which converted to 3:50.02 with the altitude and track-size adjustments had the Mavs seeded just sixth coming into the meet.
Just 30 minutes earlier, Arceneaux placed fourth overall and second in her heat of the 200-meter final with a personal-best time of 24.48 seconds, improving her No. 2 positioning on the Mavs' all-time charts. She and Jenrette were 2-event all-Americans throughout the weekend. Jenrette had finished sixth in the pentathlon on the prior Thursday.
As a team, the Maverick women scored 18 team points to tie for 12th in the final team standings, by far their best national championship finish, which had been tied for 22nd coming in. That mark had been set in 2011, when Alexis Skarda took second in the women's mile, scoring all eight of the Mavericks' national points that season.
Meanwhile, Torres posted an impressive time several hours earlier as he took second in the mile with a mark of 4:00.86, just 0.46 seconds shy of becoming a national champion and less than a second off the illustrious 4-minute barrier. The junior out of Oro Valley, Arizona, also went nearly seven seconds faster than his 1-day-old school record of 4:07.52, which he had set in Friday's preliminary heats.
He and sixth-place high jump finisher Justin Thompson combined to score 11 team points as the 2-man Maverick men's squad tied for 22nd in the team standings. The 11 team points are the second most in program history, behind only the 2018 team when Jahr and Ellis became CMU's first ever track & field national champions with wins in the pentathlon and pole vault, respectively.


Written by Chris Day