Track and field teams win at invitational as national championships bear down

| Contributing Reporter
A group of runners rounds the bend on a track on a cloudy day. The first two runners wear green shirts, while the second two wear orange shirts. A person in an orange jacket looks on from a chair beside the track.

Two Washington University runners lead a pack during a recent home meet. (Photo by Curran Neenan | Student Life)

The men’s and women’s track and field kicked past their competition to claim first place at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology’s Friday Night Spikes Invitational this weekend. Continuing on from their success in their last couple of meets, the men’s and women’s teams maintain their high ranks in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association national rating index, placing 11th and 12th, respectively. 

The women’s team finished first in 15 of 21 events, completing the day with a total of 349 points, more than doubling the second-place finisher, Rose-Hulman.  The men’s team also won the majority of their events, placing first in 12. Their point total, while closer than the women’s, still was a decisive victory at 254 points.

One standout performance came from distance runner Jacob Ridderhoff, who claimed victory in the 1500 meter race in 3:50.86, a time that puts him fourth in the nation for that event. While a personal best for him, Ridderhoff did not feel like his win was the result of some major change in his training. “It’s not like I started eating salad every day,” he said. Instead, continued habits have helped him to improve his performance. “It’s really just been consistency of training and workouts and doing little things of recovery and sleeping. I honestly wouldn’t point to anything specific—just having a good group to run with and train with.” 

Although the season has yet to conclude and a few weeks still remain for other athletes to surpass his time on the national leaderboard, Ridderhoff hopes his time is good enough for him to be able to qualify for nationals. Typically the top 20 athletes on the performance list are given invites to the NCAA Championships, but currently, fewer than four seconds separate Ridderhoff’s time from the runner in 20th position. 

[Jacob is the third Ridderhoff at Wash. U., but he says his parents don’t play favorites.]

The Bears have hit their stride as the season begins to wrap up, with just three events left on their schedule before the end of the season. Although the conference track meet for the University Athletic Association was canceled, the members of the track team are working hard to continue to improve the results before the postseason.

Many individual Bears are hoping to qualify for nationals, which are scheduled to take place in Greensboro, North Carolina at the end of May. While athletes will qualify individually, they will be able to contend for the team championship with whichever athletes qualify in their events. Currently, the men have 10 individuals within the top 20 nationally for their given events, and the women’s team has seven runners in the top 20. That could change as athletes continue to improve and run fast times in the weeks leading up to nationals, but the team goes into the end of the season in a position to have a strong finish at the NCAA championships. 

Other track and field stories from the Student Life sports desk:

‘Every day I feel like there’s a little bit more light’: Anthony Azama on the uneasy yet hopeful start for this semester’s sports

‘Maybe in the future I’ll get to do that again’: With indoor track season canceled and practices on pause, one jumper reminisces about his time on the runway and in the pit

Track and field comes first and second at largest meet yet

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