Track: Bears start season fast

| Senior Sports Editor
The Washington University men’s and women’s track teams opened the 2009 indoor season in strong form over the weekend. The men finished first of four teams at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology dual meet while the women, who finished third at the NCAA Indoor Championships last year, finished a close second to defending national champion Illinois Wesleyan University in their head-to-head contest.

“It was a strong performance. I think [that] the first meet is always important just to get back into the swing of things and get back to competing and training,” senior Aubrey Edwards said.

“I thought for having a meet four days after coming back that, as a whole, we performed very well,” Assistant Coach Lane Lohr said.

Wash. U. broke into the win column with first and second place finishes by senior Jessica Lane and freshman Katie Hered. Freshman Emily Babiss took the women’s triple jump. The women then dominated the 200-meter dash as senior Erica Wade, junior Caitlin Hartsell, senior Caitlin Malloy and freshman Elisabeth Stocking finished first, second, fourth and fifth, respectively.

The men won their first event with a first through third finish in the 55-meter dash, with senior Pierre Hoppenot, sophomore Tom Gulyas and senior Todd Mowry finishing in that order. Sophomore Dave Spandorfer and junior Alden Black then finished first and second in the 3,000-meter run. The men took one more event during the meet, as sophomore Ben Harmon, senior Nate Kosloff, freshman Dan Davis and junior Iby Umana won the 4×400-meter relay.

The women followed suit in the 3,000-meter run, with freshman Liz Phillips and sophomore Taryn Surtees taking first and second.

“We had several champions. The girl’s team was going against the defending national champions, so to be within 10 points or so of the national champions was very nice. And for the guys to win…that’s a very encouraging start, and I think that shows our depth over all of the events,” Lohr said.

The team’s depth not only spans all events, but also all undergraduate classes. Senior Danny Luce placed third and fifth in the weight throw and shot put, with his weight throw distance of 14.15 meters setting a personal best by more than one meter.

In their first collegiate competition, freshmen hurdlers Tyler Jackson and Dan Davis took second and third in the 55-meter hurdles, respectively.

For the women, freshman Amari Mason placed at least fourth in the 60-meter dash, 60-meter hurdles and long jump.

The women’s team was also satisfied with its level of competition against the reigning national champions.

“It was kind of a marker for us since you’re competing against a historically great track and field program, and I think that we were happy with that. Knowing that we’re just a little bit behind them was encouraging ’cause there’s still time to make changes and get better,” Edwards said.

The team is using these early meets to train before the UAA Championships on March 6 and the NCAA Indoor Championships the following week. At the UAA meet, individuals will also make their final push to qualify for the national meet.

The team continues its season on Saturday at the Illinois College Snowbird Open and will compete every weekend in hopes of qualifying for the NCAA Indoor Championships on March 13-14.

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