Bears open up spring season with sweep of home meet
The Washington University track and field teams fought through some unfavorable conditions on Friday night to begin their spring campaigns with a sweep of the Washington University Mini Meet at Bushyhead Track.
With 171.5 points, the women’s team edged out Wheaton College and its 142 points for first place while the men’s team tallied 190 points to outpace Ohio Northern University’s 171.
“It was a good meet,” head coach Jeff Stiles said. “All of those schools are really solid schools. It was a very competitive way to start the outdoor season.”
While the rains that hit St. Louis on Friday night affected some events more than others, Wash. U. was able to tally nine event wins—four for the women and five for the men—picking up first-place finishes in track races as well as field events.
“We did well compared to the other teams,” freshman Melissa Gilkey said. “A lot of people might have been disappointed in their personal performances because the weather was so poor, and it was kind of hard to get a good mentality with weather like that. But as a team we did really well, and that’s what’s important.”
The highlight of the day for the women’s team came in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, in which sophomore Sarah Fisher (with a time of 11:05.19), freshman Lucy Cheadle (11:05.86) and senior Lacey Vogel (11:44.28) took first through third. Fisher and Cheadle’s times put them in third and fourth on the event’s NCAA Division III performance list for the season to date.
Wash. U. won two more track races that day: the 400-meter hurdles, with sophomore Shannon Howell’s time of 1:04.80, and the 5,000-meter run, with senior Liz Phillips’ time of 17:15.50.
Phillips’ had a time that Stiles said will probably qualify her for nationals—a solid start to the spring season in an event she doesn’t usually run.
“I [had a personal record] by 23 seconds. The 5K is not really the event I focus on usually in outdoors, and so I didn’t have a spectacular PR going in, but I ended up running it well,” Phillips said.
In the field events, Gilkey took the javelin throw at a mark of 38.69 meters, placing her fourth in Division III so far this season while senior Alison Andrews took third in the event at 35.40 meters. Just missing out on a win was sophomore Madison Cannon, whose mark of 10.97 meters in the shot put gave her second place on the day.
“I’ve only been practicing for about a week, so I was really nervous that I was going to do really poorly, but I beat my [personal record], so I was pretty happy about that,” Gilkey said. “It can only improve from there.”
There were several strong performances on the men’s side as well. Senior Tyler Jackson, coming off of a national championship in the winter season, easily won the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 15.10 seconds, more than a second faster than the next-fastest runner. Junior David Hamm was the other winner on the track, taking the 5,000-meter run in 15:26.98.
Senior Justin Pieper’s high jump mark of 1.85 meters gave him a win as did senior Ben Cutting’s 54.25 meters in the javelin. It was the pole vault, however, that may have been the best event of the day for the men’s squad. Wash. U. took four of the top five spots, with freshmen Timothy Elliott and Nicholas Alaniva taking first and second by both clearing 4.11 meters and sophomore Kevin Lind and freshman Kyle Engelken securing fourth and fifth by both clearing 3.80 meters.
Stiles mentioned the potential the event had for the men’s squad, with four freshmen (Elliott, Alaniva, Engelken and Troy Makous) already putting up strong performances.
“We have an opportunity to go one through four in the UAA championships in the event with all freshmen,” Stiles said about the pole vault. “We’re very excited about that.”
Just missing out on winning marks were sophomore Arthur Townsend (second place in the 400-meter dash at 50.05 seconds), sophomore Charles Morris (second place in the long jump at 5.95 meters), and the men’s 4×100 relay of Morris, junior Justin Rackley and freshmen James Hallwood and Andrew Konigsberg (second place at a time of 45.19 seconds).
The Bears will host the Washington University Invitational beginning on Friday, March 30, at 12 p.m. as they continue the early portion of the spring season.