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Back-to-back National Titles

Alexis ArnoldTrailing by 71 points entering the final event, Alexis Arnold knew she’d have to dig deep – and have a few things go her way – to capture the 2012 NCAA Division III national heptathlon title. Ultimately, she did just enough – by fractions of a second – to overcome the deficit and become the university’s fourth NCAA track and field champion.

Arnold didn’t win the 800-meter finale, placing ninth, but her effort accounted for enough points to propel her past front-runner Kelly Curtis of Springfield College (18th) and withstand a challenge from race-winner Emma Dewart of Ithaca College. In the end, Arnold scored 4,920 points to Dewart’s 4,917 – the equivalent of just two-tenths of a second in the 800. Arnold’s score was also a university-record point total for the event.

“Even though she had never run close to the time needed in the 800, we knew that to win, it was going to take a gutsy effort,” Coach John Smith said of Arnold’s effort. “When she crossed the finish line, we knew it was going to be close. Sure enough, it was a slim three-point victory. We all would have been proud of her no matter what the outcome, so the victory was just the icing on the cake.”

Irene JohnsonIt marked George Fox’s second national track and field victory in as many years. The year before, Irene Johnson ran the 100-meter hurdles in 14.51 seconds to win her specialty at the 2011 Track and Field National Championships at Ohio Wesleyan University. Johnson earned All-America status for her performance and was honored as a finalist for the 2011 Ad Rutschman Small College Women’s Athlete of the Year Award.

In all, four George Fox athletes have claimed national track and field titles since the school became eligible for NCAA events in 1999. Previously, javelin throwers Matt Gassaway (2004) and Joel Krebs (2007) earned the distinction.

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