Editor's Note: This story was updated after the 800 M finals on Saturday evening.
GULF SHORES, Ala. -- Anna Shields is Point Park University's first-ever NAIA national champion. And she accomplished that during an incredible double at the NAIA Outdoor Track & Field National Championship on Saturday.
A sophomore from Torrington, Conn., Shields captured the national title in the 1,500 meters and then followed that up less than two hours later by placing second in the 800 meters. Shields earned NAIA All-American honors in both events.
Shields, who was ranked No. 1 in the 1500 meters going into the event, posted a time of 4:24.58 to beat the field of 12 runners by nearly two seconds. Shields then competed in the 800 meters -- just one hour and 50 minutes later -- and placed second with a time of 2:10.53, an NAIA national championship record for Point Park and just more than a second off her personal best.
Shields' 1500-meter championship had her in the middle of the pack 300 meters in. She made her move on the outside at the end of the second turn of the first lap. By the end of lap one, she had opened up a nice lead. She maintained that lead for all of lap two, although British Columbia's Natalia Hawthorn went in front at the end of lap three.
Shields trailed Hawthorn for the first half of the final lap until pulling even with 200 meters to go. Shields made her move to pass with an incredible final stretch to take home the NAIA national championship.
In the 800-meter finals, Shields was near the back of the pack for the first 200 meters. She passed several runners at the 300-meter mark, and she was running in second place by the end of the first lap. Eventual NAIA national champion Hannah Segrave of Milligan (Tenn.) had a nice lead by then and held it to the finish to take home her fourth national championship in the 800. Shields got within striking distance of Segrave partway through the final lap, but the Olympic trials qualifier from Great Britain could not be caught and had a winning time of 2:06.95.
Shields once again wore the bib number of teammate Tyler Carter on her back. Shields was doing so in honor of Carter, who died in a drowning accident there in Gulf Shores on Wednesday. Running in memory of Carter, Shields became Point Park's first NAIA national champion in any sport. No team or individual has ever won a national championship for the Pioneers, who are in their 50th year of competing in NAIA athletics (first year 1967-68).
Shields is now a four-time NAIA All-American. She earned NAIA Indoor All-American honors earlier this year in the mile and 1,000 meters during the indoor national championship placing second in the country in both events. She qualifed for the NAIA national meet in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track this year.
Here's is Anna Shields on the 1500 meter podium as NAIA National Champion and NAIA All-American (PPU Photo):
Here's Anna Shields on the 800 M podium as one of the eight NAIA All-Americans in the event (PPU Photo):