Track-and-Field teams win five events, men champions at SLU

| Managing Editor

With only two weeks left before the University Athletic Association Outdoor Championships, the Washington University men’s and women’s track-and-field teams showed just how prepared they are at the Saint Louis University Invitational.

On Friday and Saturday, the Bears brought home five event winners, 25 top-five finishes and several season-best performances as the men’s team placed first and the women’s team placed third.

Competing against 16 teams, the men’s team scored a total of 118 points, beating McKendree University by a margin of 7 1/2 points and NCAA Division I Saint Louis University by 30. The No. 22 women’s team scored 94 points, falling short to first-place Lincoln University (195) and SLU (131.5).

“Our coaches are getting each athlete ready and prepared for every meet,” head coach Jeff Stiles said. “Because of how prepared our kids are, we are executing when we need to.”

On the men’s side, sophomore Drew Padgett and company put on a dominating performance in the 5,000-meter run. The Red and Green swept the top five spots of the event as Padgett clocked a season-best time and facility record of 14:37.82 to finish first; his time ranks 14th in NCAA Division III this season. Sophomore Ryan Senci, junior Michael Ellenberger, senior David Hamm and sophomore Garrett Patrick came behind Padgett, with times of 14:53.38, 14:54.34, 14:54.99 and 14:56.63, placing second through fifth, respectively.

“I think we’ve never had this happen before,” Stiles said of sweeping the top five. “But we knew that this could possibly happen. Our runners were really patient for the first 2 miles, and then we pushed through the last mile, especially Drew. We really hammered it, and it was nice to see some more personal records.”

Despite the cold and windy weather Friday, junior Anna Etherington remained focused and finished with another strong performance in the women’s pole vault, posting a mark of 3.68 meters to win the event. Sophomore Claire Simons placed second with a height of 3.53 meters, and junior Moira Killoran finished in fourth at 3.23 meters.

“The [weather] conditions were far from perfect, but they competed really well,” Stiles said. “Anna [Etherington] was solid as always, and Claire [Simons] went out on a height that will probably go to nationals, so that was really encouraging. Moira [Killoran] also competed well, but she was kind of having a bad day. She pulled it together in the end, which is good to see.”

In the men’s pole vault, sophomore Nick Alaniva found his hard work in practice pay off as he won the event with an outdoor career-best mark of 4.58 meters while sophomore Troy Makous and senior Kevin Lind finished with career-best marks of 4.48 meters and 4.18 meters to finish in third and fourth, respectively.

“My confidence has really risen since the indoor season,” Makous said. “These past two weekends, I’ve been really confident in myself, and I think it’s made a difference. Nick [Alaniva] and I are really figuring things out, and we felt very dominant. We’ve been pushing and challenging each other in practice to get better, and I think it’s finally showing.”

Sophomores Connor Duermit and Melissa Gilkey also won their individual field events as Duermit threw for a distance of 59.53 meters in the men’s javelin, second-best in Wash. U. history, while Gilkey tossed a distance of 39.63 meters in the women’s javelin. In the women’s 800, freshman Emily Warner placed second, recording a time of 2:12.36,which ranks sixth in Division III this season.

“Warner is really running out of her mind, and I think she’s really impressed a lot of people,” Alaniva said. “We’ve got a very talented freshman class, and I think it’s put our team at a really good situation.”

Other notable events included the women’s high jump, in which junior Jasmine Williams finished second with a mark of 1.64 meters, and the women’s 3,000 steeplechase, in which sophomore Julie Mulvaney-Kemp finished third with a career-best time of 11:48.92.

The Bears will return to action next Friday as they attend the Rose-Hulman Twilight meet in Terre Haute, Ind.