All-Americans Honors for Asselin and Collier

Submitted by: Ron Smith - May 22nd, 2015


James Asselin

James Asselin

James Asselin and Becky Collier earned All-American honors on the second day of the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Mickey Blackwell Stadium in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Asselin, a junior, came from 13th place after eight events to capture fourth place in decathlon. Collier, a sophomore, finished sixth to pick up her fifth All-American title and the second in the heptathlon.

On his way to fourth place, Asselin produced season best marks in five of the ten events – the long jump (6.06m), the shot put (11.47m), the high jump (1.88m), the 400 meter dash (53.47) and the pole vault (3.60m). Despite those efforts, Asselin found himself five places out of All-American honors with just two events to go.

“I knew I was in 13th,” said Asselin. “The pole vault is not a good event for me, but I had a big PR of about 15 centimeters. When I saw that I was 13th going into the javelin, it was a little bit disappointing, but I knew it was still possible.”

In the ninth event, Asseline placed third among the 15 competitors, throwing the javelin for 51.74 meters. As a result, he moved into eighth place in the standings, the final place for earning All-American honors.

“Going into the 1500, I didn’t know exactly where I was standing,” said Asselin. “So, I was pretty nervous. (Assistant) coach (John) Larralde made me think that I had to beat two particular guys to get to eighth. I was looking back in the race, looking at the two guys to see if I was ahead of them.”

“James was determined to separate himself from the field and he ran quite a valiant race,” said Westmont head coach Russell Smelley.

Asselin went out strong and led for the first 1300 meters. He crossed the finish line in second place in a time of 4:38.60 – three seconds behind the winner but more than eight seconds ahead of the third place runner. As a result, he moved into fourth place with 6,333 points, seven more than the fifth place finisher.

“The decathlon is so close,” said Asselin. “You can gain or lose seven points in any event. I had no idea that getting fourth place was possible. I have been going through a lot of injuries this season. My goal was to get here. When I got here, my goal was All-American. Getting fourth was a blessing.

“I was so grateful to be here with Ben (McCollum) in his senior year,” continued Asselin. “It is the first time in Westmont history that two (Westmont) athletes have competed in the decathlon at nationals. It is special to be here with this coaching staff and especially with Ben as a training partner and a fellow competitor. He has been great.”

McCollum finished 14th with a total of 5,657 points.

Collier tallied 4,814 points in claiming sixth place in the heptathlon – the fourth highest total in Westmont history.

“This whole year has been a battle,” said Collier. “I am happy that I was able to come away with All-American. I definitely learned a lot about myself and about the Lord.

“I learned that the heptathlon is a lot more mental than I thought it was, that there is more to life than just the results in the heptathlon and that it is definitely a battle no matter what.”

“Becky is a persistent athlete,” said Russell. “She has a couple of events she is outstanding at – everything else she hangs in there and keeps maximizing her performance. No one deserves better that level of achievement.”

Collier’s best event was in the high jump in which she cleared 1.78 meters (5-10) to win the event and tie the school record.

“I am really happy with the high jump,” noted Collier. “It was a battle again – I almost missed one of the low bars. So, I was happy that I was able to come away with 1.78. It was fun having (teammate) Kristan (Holding) out there, cheering me on the whole time during the event.”

Holding, struggled with illness on the second day of the heptathlon, but managed to compete in the three events and finish in 12th place with 4.325 points.

“Kristan, who was sick to her stomach today, really was an amazing Warrior just to finish,” said Smelley.”It was special when the whole Doane team came up to after the competition to congratulate her on her performance.”

In other events, Elysia Mitchell gained a place in the finals of tomorrow’s 400 meter dash by finishing second in the second heat of today’s trials. Mitchell posted a time of 55.23.

Mitchell also anchored the women’s 4 x 400 meter relay team that set a school record in today’s trials with a time of 3:44.85. Karlie Storkson ran the first leg, Jessica Erickson the second and Taryn Phipps the third. Their time was the fastest qualifying time run today.

Earning a finals berth in the men’s 400 meters was junior Tyler Moore who also finished second in the second heat. Moore’s time was 48.37.

Saturday will see five additional Warriors competing in finals. The day’s competitions begin at 6:00 a.m. (CDT) with the running of the marathon – including Westmont seniors Heidi Nicholls and Daniel Erickson. Tomorrow afternoon, senior Shane Rowan will compete in the men’s triple jump and Collier will return to the pit for the finals of the open high jump. Tomorrow evening, sophomore Kelly Collins will compete in the women’s 5,000 meter race.

[men’s results] [women’s results] [photos part one] [photos part two]