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College track: Aurora U. sweeps NAC indoor championships

AurorUniversity junior C.J. Houlis w5000-meter race last Saturday’s Northern Athletics Conference Indoor meet. | Phocourtesy AurorUniversity

Aurora University junior C.J. Houlis won the 5,000-meter race at last Saturday’s Northern Athletics Conference Indoor meet. | Photo courtesy of Aurora University

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Updated: April 1, 2013 11:58AM

Coaches aren’t prone to tell their athletes to take it easy.

So, when Aurora University track and field coach Ryan Chapman told C.J. Houlis and Anna Perkowski to drop it down a notch prior to the start of the 5,000-meter race, there was some surprise.

“We didn’t take it out as fast as we could have because we were both running the 3,000,” said Houlis, a junior from Burlington. “My time wasn’t my best (10:49.60) but I won the race and the points.”

The Spartans won a lot of races and scored a lot of points last Saturday in winning the Northern Athletics Conference Indoor Championship with 226 points.

AU’s men’s team made it a clean sweep by winning their championship by a much closer 15-point margin.

Besides Houlis, a transfer from Elgin Community College, the AU women’s team had first places from freshman Liz Canady (400 and 200 meters), freshman Ciara Marlow (triple jump) and the 1,600-meter relay team of Marlow, junior Caitlin Monigold, freshman Lena Palmer (Yorkville) and Canady.

Freshman Elise Hinson didn’t grab a first place medal, but she placed in four events — second in the 55-meter hurdles and triple jump, third in the shot put, fifth in the high jump — and scored 24.5 points. She was named the Field Athlete of the Year and the Freshman of the Year in the NAC.

It is a strong freshman class that will only get better.

“I honestly think they have so much talent and they’re definitely working hard,” Houlis said of the freshmen.

Houlis hasn’t run track since her senior year at Burlington Central so there was a transition period.

“It wasn’t really too hard,” Houlis said. “I kept up with running whenever I could and, when I found out I was coming here, coach (Chapman) gave me a workout schedule to follow.”

In all, 44 individuals or teams scored points and 22 athletes won medals as AU wrapped up the championship early.

The AU men’s team won 11 medals and had individual first places from freshmen Alex Duncan (Aurora Central Catholic) and Tyron Pitchford. Duncan set an AU record with a time of 1:57.47 in winning the 800 meters and Pitchford set a Spartan record with a time of 22.79 in the 200 meters.

Senior Drew Schmidt (Batavia) set a record in finishing second in the 5,000 meters with a time of 15:45.11.

Freshman Nick Williams was named Co-Freshman of the Year in the NAC. He finished in third place in three events — 55 meters, long jump and triple jump.

Chapman was named Coach of the Year in the NAC.

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