ALLENDALE, Mich. – The Fresno Pacific track & field team closed out the NCAA DII National Championships with a title of its own when Madison Flores, Danae Manibog Gatewood, Chloe Sharp and Kyra Bailey took home the gold in the 4x400-meter relay, leading the women's team to a 10th-place finish overall, the best finish in program history.
"A top ten finish in the nation is really something for us to be proud of. We came into the third and final day of this meet with zero points on the board, so for our ladies to be mentally strong and believe in themselves and put 23 points up was remarkable. It's the highest finish for any team in the history of our track and cross-country programs in the NCAA era.
"Putting three women on the podium in one event for All-American honors is incredibly difficult, considering only about the top 20 in the nation even get to compete at nationals in each event. Madison (4th), Danae (5th), and Chloe (8th) all ran lifetime bests, and Madison matched Danae's school record. The grand finale was of course the 4 x 400-meter relay with those three women and Kyra as the anchor. All three of these women ran a faster 400 than they have ever run in their careers, and the result was a national title. Danae ran the single-fastest split of the entire competition among all competitors. What Coach Robert Foster has done with our sprints squad is one of the most remarkable stories of the year in Division II track. To me, one of the best parts of this national champion relay team is that they are all homegrown, graduates of Tulare Union HS, El Diamante HS in Visalia, and two from Clovis North HS. I know these ladies were also running for their sister Kyla Richardson who was the top seed in the 100 and 200 and on both relays. Kyla had to just cheer them on this time, but Kyra served in the hero role today as the anchor leg, and their very inspired efforts were rewarded. Not only did they lower our school record by nearly four seconds, but I believe are now the sixth fastest program in DII history in the event.
"Alicia walked into the team a year and a half ago as a kid who played softball growing up, and we figured we would give her a shot to throw the javelin. Now she is one of the top 20 jav throwers in the nation! Her dedication and fight have been inspiring and throws coach Ray Hansen has once again shown his ability to find and grow talent. She will leave our program with the second-best all-time mark in school history." – head coach Ray Winter
- Flores, Manibog Gatewood, Sharp and Bailey took home the national title after posting a program-record 3:35.92 in the 4x400 relay, earning All-American honors in the process. Each of the four splits were personal records, and Manibog Gatewood ran the fastest 400 split in the entire field.
- Flores took fourth place in the 400-meter dash, matching Manibog Gatewood's school record of 53.63.
- Manibog Gatewood just barely finished behind Flores in the 400 with a 53.63 of her own, and Sharp was able to earn a point for the Sunbirds with an eighth-place finish in the event at 54.32.
- In the 4x100 dash, the relay squad finished sixth overall with Bailey stepping in for Richardson in the event.
- Alicia Garcia competed in her first NCAA National Championships, finishing 16th in the javelin throw after being seeded 20th in the nation. Her best mark was 41.92 meters.
PHOTO (from left): Kyra Bailey, Chole Sharp, Madison Flores and Danae Manibog Gatewood (FPU Athletics)
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Written by FPU Sunbirds staff