Men and women sweep UAA track titles for first time since 2009

| Senior Sports Editor

For the seventh time in school history, the Washington University men and women’s track-and-field teams both won University Athletic Association outdoor titles by scoring across a variety of events over the weekend in Chicago.

The Red and Green took home 14 individual titles and came back from deficits after the first day of competition in both genders to win the championships.

The women’s team scored 211 points, edging out the University of Chicago (201.50 points), to win its first UAA outdoor title since 2009 while the men cruised to a 215-point total, besting Carnegie Mellon University (166 points) by nearly 50 points, to win their sixth straight title.

Head coach Jeff Stiles pointed to the teams’ balance and ability to score in most events as a key reason that the Red and Green took home two titles.

“We were pretty much able to score in every event, so we were constantly adding to the total [score]. The guys on paper had a slight lead, but they really just took it to Carnegie. We told them it was a race to 200 points and we got to 200 first, so we came away with two titles,” Stiles said.

After the first day of action, the women’s team fell behind Chicago by 10.5 points. The men’s team trailed Carnegie Mellon by seven points, but junior Troy Makous claims that the team was confident because its strengths positioned itself for a better day on Sunday.

“Carnegie is strong in day-one events, especially the hammer and shot put, but we knew that we would be strong on day two with all of our finalists, [5-kilometer race], relays and other field events,” Makous said.

For the women’s team, junior Lucy Cheadle won both the 3,000-meter steeplechase and the 5,000 run. Senior Anna Etherington cleared 3.80 meters in the pole vault to win her fourth straight UAA outdoor title, and junior Melissa Gilkey took the javelin throw with a distance of 37.60 meters. Other event winners included freshman Daisy Ogede, who posted a time of 25.17 in the women’s 200, and senior Jasmine Williams, who recorded her first-career UAA outdoor title in the long jump with a distance of 5.54 meters. Williams also won the high jump with a height of 1.63 meters while placing fifth and eighth in the triple jump and 100 run, respectively, which are two events that she had not trained for until this week.

“Last week, I decided that I could pick up some more points maybe, and I had never triple jumped before and I talked to coach [Stiles] and I was like, ‘Hey, what about putting me in the triple jump?’ He was like, ‘Are you sure?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it,’” Williams said.

The impromptu additions to her schedule continued with the 100 a few days later, she added.

On the men’s side, Makous took first place by clearing 4.57 meters in the pole vault. He attributed the victory to his team-first mentality in order to overcome the windy and cold weather conditions.

“Conference is all about the team. When it comes down to it, we are all out there competing for each other, not ourselves. I took that mentality into the pole vault, but I also made sure to stay warm, ignore the wind and focus on the next jump,” Makous said.

Other men’s event winners included Josh Clark in the 1,500 and junior Brendan Stone in the 400 hurdles. Junior James Hallwood was victorious in both the 100 and 200 with times of 10.74 and 21.64 seconds, respectively. The men also won two relay titles as Makous, Hallwood, junior Nick Alaniva and senior Alan Komorowski took the 4×100 relay with a time of 42.00 seconds; the team of freshman Deko Ricketts, sophomore James Fitzhugh, sophomore Alex Bastian and junior Brendan Stone came away with the victory in the 4×400 relay.

Makous claimed that the bus home from Chicago was a happy one with both teams celebrating together.

“The girls’ title is arguably more special because they haven’t won the outdoor title for at least four years…They were within so few points the last two years,” Makous said. “The last two years, this bus ride has been a combination of celebration of winning on the guys’ side and sadness on the girls’ side, and since we are all the same team, that feels bittersweet. This year, it’s absolutely incredible. The work has paid off and we couldn’t be happier, regardless of our personal performances.”

Stiles echoed Makous’ sentiments.

“For the women, it was a long time coming. Their freshman year, we won an indoor title, but they never won an outdoor title. We came close in indoors this year and we have a huge senior class on the girl’s side,” Stiles said. “It’s always great to win one, but when you have one team celebrating with the other team, it’s really special.”

The men’s and women’s teams will try to sustain the momentum for the next couple meets before the NCAA Outdoor Championships from May 22-24 in Delaware, Ohio.