FSU's Samantha Johnson Advances To Finals As Bulldogs Open Action At NCAA Track Championships

FSU's Samantha Johnson Advances To Finals As Bulldogs Open Action At NCAA Track Championships

Provided by FSU

Big Rapids, Mich. - Ferris State University senior distance runner Samantha Johnson (Troy) advanced to the finals in the 1,500 meters as the Bulldogs opened action in the 2015 NCAA Division II National Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Thursday (May 21) in Allendale, Mich.

Johnson placed 10th overall in the prelims of the 1,500 meters as she clocked 4:31.93 in the race at the GVSU Track & Field Complex. Her time was the 10th-best overall of the 20 competing runners in the race with the top 12 qualifying for Saturday's (May 23) finals. A total of only four seconds seperated the 12 qualifiers in the prelims.

Along with Johnson, FSU senior Breeann Ovokaitys (Cedar Springs) also ran in the 1,500 meters and came in 16th overall at 4:37.64 as she narrowly missed advancing to the finals.

Johnson will race in Saturday's finals starting at 2:25 p.m. (ET) for a chance to receive All-America recognition. The top eight finishers in each event will claim All-America accolades.

The Division II nationals are being held in West Michigan for the second consecutive year Thursday thru Saturday, May 21-23, in Allendale. Grand Valley State and the West Michigan Sports Commission are hosting the D2 national meet at the GVSU Track & Field Complex with live streaming offered at NCAA.com.

Student-athletes qualified for the championships by reaching the automatic and provisional standards established for each event with the final selected participants chosen based on their performance marks.

Johnson was among the national provisional qualifiers for the NCAA Division II Outdoor Championships in both the 800 meters and the 1500 meters. During the outdoor campaign, she's posted four first-place finishes in the distance events and placed among the top six finishers overall in all five meet appearances, which includes five top-two efforts. Earlier this year, Johnson received 2015 NCAA Division II Indoor Track All-America honors with a seventh-place finish in the mile run at the national meet on March 14 in Birmingham, Ala.

A GLIAC Commissioner's Award winner for Excellence a year ago, Johnson was chosen as the 2013 United States Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Midwest Region "Runner of the Year" and the 2013 GLIAC Cross Country "Athlete of the Year" for her efforts in cross country. She has been an all-conference pick multiple times and a multiple-time GLIAC All-Academic Team selection in her career. For her performance last year in 2013-14, Johnson was also chosen as a 2014 Capital One Academic All-America selection.

In her final season of cross country in the fall of 2013, Johnson won three cross country races, including the GLIAC and NCAA Midwest Regional titles while also winning the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Invitational. She qualified individually for the NCAA Division II Championships where she placed fifth in the country and claimed All-America kudos. The veteran four-year letterwinner helped Ferris State to be ranked as one of the region's top 10 squads throughout her collegiate career and ranked nationally multiple times.

Meanwhile, Ovokaitys raced in the national outdoor championships for the second-straight year after finishing 18th overall in the prelims of the 1,500 meters a year ago with a clocking of 4:40.18 in Allendale. Last year represented her first appearance at the national championships. She previously earned All-America honors in 2014 at the Division II National Indoor Championships held in Winston-Salem, N.C., as a member of FSU's distance medley relay team that claimed All-America honors with a seventh-place national meet finish. She was also chosen as a 2014 USTFCCCA All-Midwest Region pick and has been a GLIAC All-Academic Team selection multiple times in her collegiate career.

Both Johnson and Ovokaitys earned all-conference accolades during the outdoor track campaign this year by finishing second and third, respectively, at the GLIAC meet held in Hillsdale (May 1).

The NCAA Division II Men's and Women's Track and Field Committee selected the participants for the 2015 NCAA Division II Men's and Women's Outdoor Track and Field Championships. A total of 754 participants, 377 men and 377 women, are competing in the championships.

For more information & results on the NCAA-II Championships, please visit this link: