Davis and company off to an encouraging start

Michael Rosengart | Sports Reporter

Sophomore Dan Davis’ NCAA provisional qualifying time of 7.74 seconds in the men’s 55-meter hurdles at the Illinois Wesleyan Triangular meet highlighted a promising start for Washington University’s track and field team. Wash. U. athletes finished in the top three of 35 events.

“[It’s] a great sign [for] so early in the year,” head coach Jeff Stiles said. “Last season, Davis got into the preliminary qualifying range late in the year and ended up falling two hundredths of a second short of going to the NCAA championship meet.”

Davis said, “More than anything, it’s nice to have that out of the way. Now I can focus more on working hard and trying to improve my seed.”

Preliminary qualifying in the men’s 55-meter hurdle is any time from 7.56 to 7.74 seconds. Anything below the 7.56 mark automatically qualifies for the NCAA indoor championship meet in March in Greencastle, Ind. Davis’ status as a preliminary qualifier means that if not enough athletes obtain automatic qualification, his time will be considered for competition.

Graduate student Pierre Hoppenot led a sweep in the men’s 55-meter dash (6.67), ahead of junior Tom Gulyas (6.74) and freshman Ivan Davis (6.93). Hoppenot took first in the 200-meter dash (22.87), while Davis placed second (23.14). Hoppenot was the only Washington University athlete with two first-place finishes.

The mile run helped the team earn points when the Bears took the top four spots. With a time of 4:31.66, sophomore Will Forrester, who was running the event for his first time collegiately, beat teammates senior Alden Black, sophomore Tucker Hartley and junior Kenny Fairleigh.

The women’s squad struggled in track events; senior Caitlin Hartsell finished one hundredth of a second short of winning the 200-meter dash. “[It was] disappointing to just miss catching another runner,” Hartsell said. Teammate and senior Molly Schlamb also achieved two top-three finishes; second in the 1,000-meter run and third in the 600-meter run.

The Lady Bears found more success in field events: Junior Moji Hassan took second in the shot put at 10.86 meters and third in the weight throw at 12.45 meters while senior Hana Damore finished second at 13.13 meters. Additionally, sophomore Katie Hered (3.20 meters) won the pole vault, while senior Allison Lee (2.60 meters) took third.

“This first meet is a kind of litmus test, and the key will be to get hot when it counts,” Stiles said.

Several first-time competitors had strong performances. Freshmen Anne Diaz-Arrastia, Ivan Davis (third in the 55-meter dash) and Tom Arnold (first in men’s shotput) all found their way into the top three.

Diaz-Arrastia won the triple jump by a solid 0.17 meters and took third in the long jump (4.77 m). “[They were] good confidence boosters more than anything else… and definitely a relief for a freshman wondering how we would adjust to college athletics,” she said.

Diaz-Arrastia stressed that these early successes should not let athletes get ahead of themselves. “It’s not nearly as impressive as the work we do in practice and will continue to do,” Diaz-Arrastia said. “We have a long season ahead of us and many more [achievements] to add to the list.”

Stiles said that the team’s performance was not a “surprise.”

“We were expecting the upperclassmen to do well, but we’re definitely excited about what we saw out of our younger competitors,” he said. “There’s a lot of reasons for us to be encouraged right now.”

The Bears continue their season at the Illinois College Snow Bird Open on Saturday in Jacksonville, Ill.