BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – In a year of many firsts, none have been greater than what took place Friday and Saturday in Birmingham, Ala. For the first time in their history, the Central Missouri Jennies track and field team can call themselves National Champions.

Another first came earlier in the season. In the first regular season poll, the Jennies were ranked No. 1 by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Association (USTFCCCA). For all seven weeks of the regular season poll, UCM fell no lower than second in the rankings.

UCM justified those rankings as they had competitors in 11 different events, and 10 were ranked in the top-10 of their events, tied for the most of any team, going into the meet.

The Jennies got off to a good start on Saturday, but did most of their heavy lifting late in the meet.

Though they were in the top-five for most of the meet, they didn't' take over the lead until there was one event remaining. Trailing by five points with two events to go, it was Erika Kinsey and Madison Smith who pushed them over the top as they leapfrogged two teams into first place.

In the next to last event, Kinsey won her second individual championship of the day, the high jump, tying the school record and championship meet record at 6' 2.75". Smith took fourth in the event, tying her personal-best 5' 9.25". The 15 points gave the Jens a 10 point cushion heading into the final event which proved to be more than enough to win the championship.

"It was a special day. Something I'll remember for a long time," said co-head coach Kip Janvrin. "It was crazy toward the end. I was hoping we'd have a chance to medal when all of a sudden Erika and Madison were jumping real well. Erika moved from fourth place up to first in the triple jump on one of her final attempts. For Madison to come back and place fourth in the high jump after finishing third in the pentathlon was really special. So in a matter of about five minutes, I went from hoping to finish with a medal to winning the whole thing."

The Jens totaled 47 points, besting second-place Hillsdale by seven and ten points over New Mexico Highlands and Ashland who tied for third-place.

For Kinsey, it was a day she'll never forget. When it was all said and done, she walked away with two individual championships and three All-American awards. Of the team's 47 points, Kinsey was responsible for 25 of them.

In addition to her win in the high jump, Kinsey was also crowned a National Champion in the triple jump. She again tied her personal-best in the event, jumping 42' 5.25". Her championship weekend began with her first All-American honor in the long jump on Friday. She took fourth place jumping 19' 10.25".

Kinsey wasn't the only multiple-event All-American. Smith won her first earlier in the day, taking third in the pentathlon. She scored 3,888 points, a new personal-best and third-best all-time at UCM. The senior is now a three-time All-American in the event.

Heavin Warner got the ball rolling for the Jens on day one. She provided major points by finishing second in the weight throw. The 2014 National Champion in the hammer throw at the Outdoor Championships was named All-American in the weight throw for the second straight year. She bettered her own school record throwing 68' 6". Warner also placed 12th in the shot put, throwing 45' 6.5".

Brittany Kallenberger was the fourth Jennies All-American. Competing in her first-ever National Championship meet, Kallenberger took fifth place in the pole vault, jumping 12' 9.25".

Coach Janvrin said it was more than just the performances of the athletes that led to the win. "We had a lot of fans there. We were making a lot of noise. We owned the building and the energy our fans provided help push and motivate our athletes."

The Jennies have been near the top, but unable to grasp that championship in recent years. UCM has seven top-10 finishes at the national meet under co-head coaches Kip Janvrin and Kirk Pedersen. In 2014, the team finished seventh overall. Their previous-best finish was in 2009 when they placed third with 41 points.

It wasn't only the Jennies who took home hardware from the National Championship. The Mules also had three individuals and one relay team that laid claim to All-America honors.

Cole Phillips was the top individual finisher for UCM. At his first indoor championship meet, Phillips finished fifth in the pole vault jumping 16' 6.75", earning All-American status.

Tyler Chancellor and Caniggia Raynor both finished sixth in their events to make their way to the medal stand. Raynor took sixth in yesterday's weight throw with a toss of 65' 1.75". Chancellor competed in the heptathlon over the course of both days and scored 5264 points.

The 4x400m team of Michael Lockhart, Marquis Jones, Jacob Randle and Kellin Loch finished in fifth place. They ran a 3:14.41. It is the first All-American 4x400m team for the Mules since 2010.

The Mules scored 20 points as a team and finished tied for 19th place.

Now that the indoor season has concluded, the Mules and Jennies will jump right into outdoor season. The multi-eventers get the first taste of outdoor competition next week in San Angelo, Texas for the Spring Break Multi. The full team won't compete until March 28 at the Pittsburg State Open.

(Courtesy of UCM Athletic Departmen)