Men’s track wins 13th UAA title, women place a narrow third
On paper, the Washington University men’s track-and-field team was the favorite heading into the University Athletic Association championships.
The Bears lived up to the billing over the weekend in Waltham, Mass., winning eight of 16 events en route to their 13th UAA Indoor championship and fourth in the last five years.
The men’s team was in control of the meet, defeating runner-up Carnegie Mellon University by 58 points. The women’s team finished third as the University of Chicago outpaced the rest of the field by 36.5 points. Wash. U. finished just 0.5 points shy of second-place Emory University.
“We really performed well on both sides, men and women. On the women’s side, we knew that, on paper, Chicago had a big lead and it was pretty much theirs to lose. I thought we competed really well,” head coach Jeff Stiles said. “On the guys’ side, we came in with a decent lead on paper and just ran unbelievable and competed unbelievably well. We were contending to win in almost every event and scoring two- or three-deep in almost every event.”
The strong showing by the men was highlighted by a first-through-third sweep of the 3,000-meter race, in which junior Drew Padgett paced the field. His time of 8:21.99 was the 11th fastest in NCAA Division III action this season and broke the school and UAA records by more than five seconds. Seniors Elliott Petterson and Kevin Sparks finished second and third, respectively.
Junior Nick Alaniva continued his strong season with a title in the 55 dash along with third-place finishes in the long jump and pole vault.
“I usually do these three events at every meet in the indoor season, so it’s not like I’m not used to doing them in one weekend or anything,” Alaniva said. “I performed adequately [in the long jump and pole vault] and was happy to get points. In the 55, I was able to go off the momentum that our team was getting that second day and come up with a [personal record] for the win.”
Senior Alan Komorowski earned the title in the 200 with a time of 22.84 seconds, and sophomore Josh Clark held off a pair of Chicago runners to win the mile. Junior Ryan Senci and Sparks took first and second, respectively, in the 5k.
Also winning events were freshman Jack MacCarthy (55 hurdles); Alex Arteaga (long jump); and the team of sophomores James Fitzhugh and Alex Bastian, freshman Deko Ricketts and junior Brendan Stone (4×400 relay).
“Winning [50 percent] of events is really good…it was a pretty dominant performance,” Stiles said.
On the women’s side, senior Jasmine Williams continued her strong season with event wins in the long jump and high jump.
“I think [the success in previous meets] helped because each week I would get a little more comfortable…in each event,” Williams said. “It was mostly getting used to the competition. Going into conference, everyone was up in that range, and I knew I would really have to push it out if I wanted to succeed.”
Her career-best long jump of 5.59 meters is the third best in school history and the ninth best in Division III this season.
“I never imagined I’d be winning conference in the long jump ever. High jump is always a big pressure for me because that’s my event that I love to do,” Williams said. “It’s very surprising actually [that I’m in the top 10 nationally]. When my coach was like, ‘Yeah that put you in position to go to nationals,’ I was like, ‘Oh. Wow.’”
“This is my first time doing anything big for long jump,” Williams added. “I’m really excited for it just to see how this goes.”
Senior Anna Etherington continued her career-long dominance of the pole vault, winning her fourth straight UAA title with a jump of 3.85 meters. Junior Claire Simons contributed a second-place clearance of 3.67 meters.
“Anna Etherington has a great chance to win the pole vault [at nationals]. I mean, she was coming in [to begin her vault] when there was only one person left. She makes one height and she wins the meet,” Stiles said.
Junior Lucy Cheadle lowered her own school record in the 3,000 en route to winning the UAA title for the second-straight year. Cheadle’s time of 9:51.11 is the fifth fastest in Division III this season and was 7.05 seconds faster than her previous school record.
“We did not win, but the women are set up better for nationals. I mean, we think we have an outside shot at trophy-ing at nationals on the women’s side,” Stiles said.
Even though 18 student-athletes and one assistant coach were stuck overnight in Philadelphia because of inclement weather, the Red and Green have already begun preparations for the NCAA Indoor Championships March 14-15 in Lincoln, Neb. According to Stiles, about 12 athletes will trek to the Point Last Chance meet in Stevens Point, Wis., on March 8 to attempt to qualify for nationals.
“We think about half [of the athletes traveling] have a good chance in that they may already be [qualified for nationals] and we won’t know officially until next Sunday. A few more are trying to get in, but I think eight is a really realistic number [to qualify].”