ALLENDALE, Mich. - Western Washington University's Katelyn Steen was the top qualifier in the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase prelims and the Vikings' Alex Donigian broke his own school record to qualify in the men's 100 in first-day action Thursday at the NCAA Division II National Outdoor Track and Field Championships taking place at Grand Valley State University Stadium.
Earlier in the day, WWU's Lindsay Wells placed 12th in the women's hammer with a mark of 169-5.
Steen's winning time in her steeplechase heat was 10:39.10. She pulled away with just over two laps remaining and ran away from the field.
"The race didn't go the way that I thought it would," Steen said in a news release, "but I felt really good. I'm thrilled."
The steeplechase final is scheduled for Friday at 4:25 p.m.
"I would like to pull off something wonderful," Steen said.
Steen entered the competition ranked fifth nationally in the steeplechase with a school record and Great Northwest Athletic Conference meet winning time of 10:34.40.
Donigian had a 10.46 clocking in the 100 as he placed second in his heat.
"To have that time and not have ideal form is the best thing that I could have hoped for," Donigian said in a news release. "There is definitely room for improvement. I stumbled out of the blocks the first two steps."
The 100 final is at 3:35 p.m. on Saturday.
A provisional national qualifier in the hammer each of her four years, Wells was making her first trip to nationals. She entered the competition ranked 11th with a school-record effort of 182-4. Two weeks ago, Wells won the GNAC title for the third straight year.
"She competed well," WWU head coach Pee Wee Halsell in a news release of Wells' performance at nationals. "Her last throw hit the net a little bit, and I think that was the one that would have gotten her into the finals."
In all, eight Vikings are participating at nationals.
On Friday at 11 a.m., Frank Catelli competes in the men's discus. On Saturday, John Haskin and Slater Hirst are in the men's javelin at 8 a.m., Bethany Drake and Katie Reichert are in the women's javelin at 11 a.m. and Catelli is in the shot put at 11:15 a.m..