There was a blizzard outside the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio, but inside everything was heating up at the NAIA Indoor National Championships. Two Lions qualified for finals: Alex Stephens in the 3000m and Anthony Simpson in the 5000m.
First up for the day was Stephens, a one-time All-American trying to add to his titles in his senior year. After a moderate start of 2:52 for the first kilometer, the race started to pick up. Stephens, sitting in the back, didn't recognize a gap opening in front and struggled to close the last 1500m. Still, in his last Indoor race of his career, he finished 10th in the nation in 8:43.61. Sophomore Sam Atkin of Lewis-Clark State College was the champion in 8:18.36.
Simpson was up next in the 5000m. The race went out quickly, with the pack coming through in 4:39 at the mile. Simpson was sitting near the back as they reached the halfway mark in 7:19. With two laps to go the pack started to pick it up, and with 400m to go Simpson had a gap in front of him sitting in 9th, just outside of an All American position. With 250m to go and Simpson looked to be out of contention, but started to pick it. He pulled up on 8th with 150m to go and started to kick as everyone else did as well. Anthony and three other runners pulled even with one another with 50m to go, and it was Simpson who out-leaned the group to finish 6th in 14:43.34, .01 seconds ahead of 7th and just .52 seconds ahead of 9th. The 5000m champion was Eastern Oregon's DJ Flores, who finished in 14:37.53. This was the first Indoor All-American honor that Simpson has earned, and 3rd overall with his two honors from cross country.
With the conclusion of the Indoor season, the Lions will open their Outdoor season at Shorter University on March 28 and 29 at the Shorter Relays.