SOU’s Perkinson runs NAIA’s fastest 5K since 2009

AZUSA, Calif. — In one of the fastest collegiate races in the country, Southern Oregon University’s Jessa Perkinson ran like she belonged and notched the NAIA’s top 5,000-meter time in nine years on Thursday night at Azusa Pacific’s Bryan Clay Invitational.

Perkinson clocked in at 16 minutes 13.79 seconds, demolishing another one of her own school records to place 13th of 21 in a race that included 11 competitors from NCAA Division I schools, four from NCAA Div. II schools and five club runners.

Marielle Hall, a professional representing Nike/Bowerman Track Club, won it in 15:39.42, and Alaska Anchorage junior Caroline Kurgat was the runner-up in 15:43.95 — the third-best collegiate mark at any level this season.

Perkinson’s time was the best in the NAIA since Azusa Pacific’s Jaime Canterbury clocked in at 16:06.97 at the 2009 Mt. Sac Relays. She was running the 5K for the first time since she won last year’s NAIA Outdoor title. Her previous best, 16:37.47, was established last spring at the Cascade Conference Championships in a race she won by 41 seconds. It finished the season on top of the NAIA performance list.

Perkinson, a 12-time All-American and two-time national champ, now owns the top spot on this season’s NAIA 5K performance list by a margin of 14.3 seconds. She also has the top 10K time (34:35.33) by nearly 28 seconds and ranks fifth on the 1,500 performance list (4:30.65).

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