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Abilene Christian Wins Men’s, Women’s Division II Titles

March 9, 1996

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Pain is a great motivator.

Casi Florida, a freshman at Abilene Christian, began cramping with about three laps to go Saturday in the NCAA Division II women’s indoor 5,000-meter run.

What did she do? She pushed even harder.

``I had a side cramp and I had to go faster to forget about it. I had to pick it up. It did not feel good,″ said Florida, who crossed the finish line almost 14 seconds ahead of her nearest challenger.

The victory in that race was one of three individual titles for the Abiline Christian women, who won a fourth straight team championship and the eighth in the past nine years. The Wildcats also won the men’s team title for the third time in four years, despite having only one individual winner.

Florida, who also was seventh in the mile, won the 5,000 in 16 minutes, 28.5 seconds, about 5 seconds off the Division II meet record set last year. It was Florida’s personal best and far exceeded her goal for the race.

``I just felt real relaxed and I saw the first mile and I was, `Wow, can I hold this?′ But I just went ahead, and I guess I did it,″ she said.

``When I came around with 100 meters to go and saw a 16:10, I was like, `Whoa, let’s go!′ Because I knew if I had a 16:10 there, it would be better than I ever ran before if I finished.

``It surprised me. I still can’t believe it. My goal was to run a 16:44, 16:45,″ she said.

Abilene Christian totaled 68 points to take the women’s team title. St. Augustine’s, trying for its first championship since 1987, finished a distant second with 40 points. Western State was third with 26 points and North Dakota State tied Cal-Davis for fourth with 22.

The Abilene men also had a lopsided win, totaling 86.83 points to runnerup St. Augustine’s 46.33. Cal State-Los Angeles had 36 points for third.

The other victories for Abilene Christian were in the men’s 5,000, where Thomas Korir and Fallody Moonga gave the Wildcats a 1-2 finish; in the women’s 55-hurdles, with Delloreen Ennis; and in the women’s 55 dash, with another 1-2 finish by Mary Tombiri and Amara Ezem.

Korir, the runner-up the past two years, said it helped having his teammate running with him almost the entire race.

``During the race I was panting a little bit because I just finished the mile. But I gained my momentum, and the pace we were running was a good pace for me,″ he said. ``So I just relaxed and with four laps to go took the lead.

Korir was third in the mile. Abilene Christian also had seconds in the mile, shot put and pole vault and thirds in the 55 dash and 55 hurdles. The women also had seconds in the 55 dash and the 1,600 relay.

``We are very well-rounded in both teams,″ coach Wes Kittley said. ``We had finalists in every women’s event but the weight throw and our men made every final but the triple jump. I am most proud of the fact that we have two very solid, very even teams.″

He said he thought it would be closer for the team title.

``If there was a surprise, it was Casi Florida. She was unbelievable. She was phenomenal.″

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