Track hopes for two titles at UAA Outdoor Championships

| Staff Reporter
Stephen Huber | Student Life

Junior Zach Lonneman prepares to throw in the shot put at the WUSTL Invite on March 28. The men’s track-and-field team is looking to win its sixth straight University Athletic Association outdoor title.

Men’s track and field

Looking for its sixth straight University Athletic Association outdoor title, the Washington University men’s track-and-field team is projected to be in a dead heat with Carnegie Mellon University at the UAA Outdoor Championships in Chicago. According to head coach Jeff Stiles, the two are tied on paper.

Stiles pointed to four specific events where Carnegie Mellon will score nearly half of its points: javelin, shot put, discus and hammer throw. The Bears will counter by hoping to accumulate enough points across all types of events to secure a championship.

“What we’re going to bring to the table is a more balanced approach where we’re going to score hopefully in every event. Where [the Tartans] are going to have closed the gap on us is that their strength is throws, and they added two throwing events,” Stiles said. “But we had balance indoors and we will maintain balance outdoors. It is reasonable for us to score in all 21 events.”

Strengths for the men’s team include the 10,000-meter race, where Wash. U. holds the top four times, courtesy of junior Drew Padgett and seniors Kevin Sparks, Michael Ellenberger and Elliott Peterson. In addition, junior James Hallwood has posted the fastest UAA times of the season in the 100 and 200.

Women’s track and field

For the women, Wash. U. is projected to finish in third place, just 20 points behind the University of Chicago and Emory University. Stiles said that the Bears will use their athletes creatively, entering some, including sophomore Emily Warner and senior Jasmine Williams, in events in which they don’t typically compete.

To make up ground on the Maroons and Eagles, the Wash. U. women will need to perform well in their strongest events and overachieve in others.

“If we just go with the order, we don’t win. But we are making some very educated changes… and doing some things to try and give ourselves the best chance,” Stiles said.

The pole vaulting tandem of senior Anna Etherington and junior Claire Simons took first and second, respectively, at the UAA Indoor Championships, and the two are projected to sweep the top spots again. Despite sustaining minor injuries at the Rose-Hulman Twilight Meet last weekend, Etherington and Simons are healthy and ready to go in Chicago.

Williams was also listed in last week’s unofficial injury report, but she was cleared to participate and will compete in the triple jump for the first time in her career, as well as the 100-meter dash.

“Jasmine [Williams] is a great athlete and will probably contend to win, even though she has never competed in the triple jump before,” Stiles said.

If the men’s and women’s teams can score at least 200 points this weekend, Stiles is confident they can walk away with a title. Overall, the goal for the Red and Green is to score in all 21 events across the men’s and women’s competitions.

“A perfect weekend would be scoring in all 42 events, winning two UAA championships and having every single kid feel good about their performances,” Stiles said.