PALATINE, Ill. – Harper College women's track and field athletes Ali Gutt (Schaumburg, Ill./Schaumburg) and Leah Kloss (Grayslake, Ill. /Grayslake Central) showed consistency throughout the season and excelled at the 2016 NJCAA Division III Women's Outdoor Track and Field Championship. The pair, who were recognized with numerous postseason awards, won a combined three national titles and scored big points in numerous events at the national meet to help the team to a third place showing, can now lay claim to being Harper's first-ever Harper College Female Co-Athletes of the Week.
Gutt had an extremely impressive freshman season as she was a two-time national champion, winning at both 800 meters and 1500 meters. In the 800m, she ran a national meet record and school record 2:16.85 to win by almost four seconds. In the 1500m, Gutt blitzed the 14-runner field with a time of 4:52.91 to win by over five seconds. She also helped the 4x800m relay team score six points with a third place finish in 10:43.35.
Prior to the national meet, she was named the Central Region Women's Track Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). After nationals, Gutt was voted as the USTFCCCA Women's National Track Athlete of the Year.
"Ali is an exceptional athlete. Her times demonstrate that commitment to her training results in success," said Harper head track and field coach Renee Zellner. "Coach (Jim) Macnider is able to bring out the best in the distance crew. I look forward to watching Ali continue to improve her times this fall and during the track and field season. Not only is she talented, but she is a great support for her teammates."
Kloss capped off her sophomore season with a national title in the hammer throw. Her best throw of 43.19m (141'8") gave her a dominating win in the event. Kloss took second place (All-American) in the javelin throw as well.
She also placed third in the shot put, fourth in the 100-meter dash, and seventh in the 200-meter dash. In the relays, Kloss was a part of a 4x100m relay team that placed third and set a school record in 49.58 seconds. She also anchored the 4x400m relay group that took fourth in 4:15.10. At the 2016 Harper College Spring Sports Banquet, Kloss was named Team MVP by her peers.
Similarly to Gutt, Kloss' efforts were noted by the USTFCCCA as she was tabbed the Central Region Women's Field Athlete of the Year for a second straight season. Earlier this month, Kloss received the top honor for a female athlete as she was named the 2015-16 Harper College Female Athlete of the Year.
In the spring of 2015, she won three national titles (100m, 200m, 4x100m relay) at the 2015 NJCAA Division III Women's Outdoor Track and Field Championship and set school records in both the 200m and 4x100m relay. At the end of the 2015 track and field season, she was recognized as both the Central Region Women's Track Athlete of the Year and Central Region Women's Field Athlete of the Year. Kloss also scored points in the long jump, hammer, and javelin in helping the team place third overall at the meet.
|Gutt (left) and Kloss (right) are the first-ever Harper College Female Co-Athletes of the Week. (Photos Courtesy of Jim Cummins and Digital Sports Photography, Herkimer, NY)|
Academically, she was honored as a N4C Academic All-Conference student-athlete during the spring semester.
"Leah is an outstanding athlete. She is multi-talented and able to excel in a variety of events. She can sprint, hurdle, jump, and throw, which demonstrates her versatility," Zellner said. "Leah enjoys the challenge of learning a new event, and it does not take long for frustration to turn into success. I see Leah taking on the challenge of competing in the heptathlon in the future. Leah has been a bright star in my coaching career, and I look forward to watching her continued success academically and athletically."
Gutt will now gear up for the fall 2016 cross country season. Last fall, she was an All-American, placing second at the 2015 NJCAA Division III Women's Cross Country Championship. As a team, the Hawks finished runner-up for the second consecutive season. She also won the individual title at the Region IV Championship hosted at Harper College.
Kloss will finish up classes at Harper College and continue to train. She has several schools interested in her and will make her final decision in the near future.