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2016 NCAA Track & Field: Wisconsin’s Kelsey Card earns discus title

The senior laid claim to the throne with some amazing throws this weekend

Track and Field: NCAA Championships Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since 1997, the Wisconsin Badgers have an individual track and field champion.

Senior Kelsey Card launched a throw of 208 feet, 5 inches to claim the NCAA track & field women’s discus title on Saturday at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. She dominated the finals with three throws over 208 feet. Second-place winner Kellion Knibb of Florida State’s best was 201’7,” almost seven feet less than Card’s.

The Plainview, Ill., native became Wisconsin's first NCAA track and field champion in almost twenty years, when Kathy Butler won the 3000 meters during the 1997 NCAA Outdoor Championships. UW noted Card will return to the field later this summer for the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Here’s the official press release from the Wisconsin athletic department:

Card’s coronation: Senior claims NCAA discus title

Senior wins Badgers’ first NCAA title since 1997 with lifetime best effort

June 11, 2016 EUGENE, Ore. -- Despite being the NCAA leader in the women’s discus with a season-best toss of 204 feet, 2 inches, Wisconsin’s Kelsey Card was the No. 17 seed in the event at the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Championships after a below-average showing at the NCAA West Preliminary Round. Card put her misstep at the preliminary round behind her on Saturday, winning the discus at the national championships at Hayward Field with a bomb of 208-5 to claim the program’s first NCAA track title since 1997.

“I’m really excited,” Card said. “This is the dream, this has been the goal and to finally achieve it after getting second last year, it just feels really great. To know that I won in such an incredibly jacked competition because everyone was throwing far so that made it all the sweeter.”

“Kelsey was at her very best today,” UW Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Mick Byrne said. “She put together her best series with five throws over 60 meters and that is what it took to beat some great throwers.

"All day long, she looked composed, confident and ready to compete. She looked like she was really enjoying herself out there. Congrats to her and throws coach Dave Astrauskas.”

Card’s mark, which broke her previous Big Ten record of 204-2, puts her as the No. 7 performer in NCAA history, the No. 5 thrower in meet history and No. 16 in this year’s world rankings.

“That’s insane,” Card said. “If you had ever told me that in any point in my career that I would have thrown this far I wouldn’t have believed you. “I dreamed of it, but it’s insane to be there.”

Card became Wisconsin's first NCAA track and field champion since Kathy Butler won the 3000 meters at the 1997 NCAA Outdoor Championships.

The Plainview, Illinois, native is also the first UW field athlete to win a national title since Pat Johnson won an AIAW (Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women) title in the long jump in 1982.

After finishing 10th at the NCAA West Preliminary Round in rainy conditions with a toss of 176-3, Card came out on a mission at the NCAA championships, unleashing a bomb of 195-2 on her first attempt of the prelims to take the lead in the first flight of competition.

Card improved on her second attempt, tossing the disc 197-2 before a monster throw of 203-10 that would have won the meet by more than two feet.But Card wasn’t done in the finals, as she launched her first of three throws over 208 feet, starting with a mark of 208-0.

Her fifth throw proved to be her best, as she rocketed the discus 208-5 before ending the competition with a mark of 208-1.

“So Dave (Astrauskas) told me to just go out there and do you and try to get a good one on the first one,” Card said. “It was a little farther than what I was even aiming for so it was exciting to start off with such a good throw and from there on I just kept building, building and I was really, really excited about it.“

“Then to go in and have three marks over my previous PR in the finals was insane, it felt really good.”

Card will return to Hayward Field next month for the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Ellenwood breaks program record in heptathlon

Card wasn’t the only Badger to make history on Saturday, as junior Georgia Ellenwood broke the school record in the heptathlon with a score of 5,935 points to finish fifth at the national championships.

“I’m really happy with it, of course I have high expectations so I was hoping top-five obviously,” Ellenwood said.

“I think I came in ranked seventh or eighth so my goal is always to come higher than I’m ranked so I’m happy with how I did today and a PB.”

“Another awesome performance by Georgia,” Byrne said. “To set a school record at the NCAA meet en route to a fifth-place finish is amazing. To score 5,935 points on the big stage under pressure is something we are very proud of. Congratulations to her and her events coach, Nate Davis.”

Ellenwood topped her previous best score of 5,914 points by 21 points en route to UW’s best finish in the event at the NCAA meet since Jessica Flax finished fourth at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.

With Ellenwood’s finish, and Card’s win in the discus and her fourth-place showing in the shot put on Thursday, Wisconsin finished 14th in the NCAA team standings with 19 points.

“Every year the bar is raised higher,” Byrne said about the Badgers’ team finish. “We have to continue to work hard to keep pace with the other top programs in the nation.”

Ellenwood entered the final day of the heptathlon sitting in seventh with a total of 3,530 points, a first-day personal best score. The Langley, British Columbia, native moved up two spots in the standings after soaring 20 feet, ½ inch in the long jump to tally 883 points.

The jump ranked seventh among the 23 competitors. Ellenwood remained in fifth after throwing the javelin 130-2, which was the ninth-best throw of the competition. In the 800 meters, Ellenwood finished third in 2 minutes, 17.29, narrowly off of her personal-best time of 2:17.10.Thanks to her fifth-place finish, Ellenwood collected first-team All-America honors, marking the 13th time since 2010 that UW has garnered first-team All-America accolades in the women’s multi-events.

“I’ve never really put a heptathlon together,” Ellenwood said. “I think I’m always trying to look for that, have bits and pieces that are good and some that are bad. So when I really put it together I think I will have a really good score.

“Hopefully that will come this year or next year so I’ve been working really hard and hopefully it will come.”

Ellenwood will have another chance in the heptathlon next week as she will compete in the Canadian Combined Events Challenge, June 17-19.

“I’m just going in and plan on having fun with it,” Ellenwood said about the Canadian meet.

“That’s something that I’ve learned I need to do this year is just go in and have fun and it will bring me to a good score anyways.

“I’m going to go compete for my country and just have fun with it.”