Weekend sports roundup: Track and field take first, second at UAA championships, men’s tennis third at indoor nationals
The end of February is always a hectic time for Washington University sports, as winter sports head into the business end of their seasons and spring sports begin to ramp things up. This weekend, the main events on campus were the two basketball teams wrapping up their regular seasons, but away from St. Louis, track and field, men’s and women’s tennis and baseball were all in action. Here’s how the Bears fared in their travels.
Track and Field
The women’s indoor track and field team picked up its season where the cross-country team left off: outrunning the competition. The Bears are ranked No. 1 in Division III, and this weekend they traveled to Waltham, MA, to compete in the UAA indoor championships.
Over the course of two days of competition, Wash. U. totalled 10 top-three finishes, earning enough team points to take home the program’s 14th conference championship. The biggest event of the weekend for the Bears was the triple jump Sunday afternoon. After briefly losing team lead, Wash. U. swept the medals in the triple jump with sophomore Eka Jose, senior Heidi Nassos and freshman Alicia Gupte taking first, second and third, respectively, to put the Bears back in front.
The men also had a successful weekend in Massachusetts, earning second place in the conference. After Saturday’s results left them 30 points adrift of Carnegie Mellon University in first place, the Bears rallied Sunday with five podium finishes and managed to pull within six points of the lead. That Sunday performance included first place races from junior Nick Matteucci in the mile, sophomore Andrew Whitaker in the 60-meter hurdles, sophomore Arthur Santoro in the 800-meter and senior Tim Goblirsch in pole vault.
The track teams will next compete in the Wartburg Qualifier meet next weekend, before wrapping up the indoor season with the NCAA Championships in Boston, March 9-10.
After a series of warm-up matches against various Division I, II and III teams, the men’s tennis team faced its first serious competition of 2019, traveling to Cleveland to compete in the ITA Indoor National Championships.
The No. 9-ranked Bears faced stiff competition right from the start, with a matchup against No. 10 Carnegie Mellon in the quarterfinals. After the Tartans took a 2-1 lead out of doubles, singles competition turned into a battle, as four of the six matches went to a third set. The match went all the way down to the wire, and a pair of clutch third set tiebreak victories from junior Bernardo Neves and sophomore Daniel Li earned the Bears a dramatic 5-4 win.
That win earned Wash. U. a semifinal matchup with arch-rival University of Chicago, who have been the Bears’ bogeymen at indoor nationals over the past few years. After once again facing a 2-1 deficit after doubles, the Bears once again pulled the match close in singles. This time, however, the Bears were unable to get to the five-win threshold: By the time sophomore Ben van der Sman finished a three-set victory, Chicago’s Alex Guzvha had already secured a clinching victory over Wash. U. junior J.J. Kroot, and the Maroons took a 5-4 victory.
The Bears were able to end the weekend on a high note, with a decisive victory over Pomona-Pitzer Colleges. This time, doubles were no issue for the Bears, as they swept the three matches for a 3-0 lead. Sophomore Ethan Hillis and van der Sman quickly got the final two victories Wash. U. needed, and the match ended at 5-1.
The Bears now have a weekend off, before traveling to Florida over spring break for a slate of five matches.
The women’s tennis team doesn’t compete in their indoor nationals until March 1, but they did face a serious slate of teams in San Antonio, TX this weekend.
The Bears opened the weekend with a matchup against No. 33 Southwestern University. Wash. U. started on the front foot, with a confident doubles sweep setting up the singles lineup with a 3-0 lead. The middle of the lineup came through for Wash. U., with freshman Divya Sharma, senior Brigitte Hodge and sophomore Grace Hederick locking down wins in the No. 3, 4 and 5 spots, respectively.
The next, day Wash. U. opened with a matchup against No. 21 Trinity University, which turned into a back-and-forth battle. After trading wins in the first eight matches, everything came down to senior Lisa Chionis’ matchup with Trinity’s Mary Keffen at No. 6 singles. Kaffen was able to come back from a set down to take down Chionis 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 and clinch a 5-4 win for Trinity.
Like the men’s team, however, the women were able to bounce back with a confident final match of the weekend, taking care of East Texas Baptist by a dominant 8-1 scoreline.
Last but not least, things got started on the diamond this weekend, with the baseball team playing a pair of high-scoring Sunday games in Conway, AR.
The Bears first took on Hendrix College. Wash. U. struck first, with a first inning triple from junior John Ostrander driving home two early runs. That early big hit set the tone for the rest of the game, as both teams pounced on hittable pitches that came their way.
Hendrix eventually stormed out to a 11-7 lead at the bottom of the ninth, and were able to withstand a three-run rally by Wash. U. in the bottom of the ninth, dealing the Bears a 10-11 loss to open their season.
The back half of the double header, against Benedictine College, once again featured strong hitting from the Bears, who once again broke into the double digits with a total of 14 runs. But Wash. U. managed to limit the damage on the other side of the ball, with starting pitcher sophomore Rees Viersen and the Bears’ fielders limiting to Benedictine to just six runs across nine frames.
Wash. U. opens its home schedule with a local showdown against Fontbonne University Wednesday afternoon.