Track teams sweep UAA indoor championships for 5th time in school history
Sometimes, second means first, at least if you’re the Washington University men’s track-and-field team.
The 1,600-meter relay team needed to finish ahead of Emory University in the final event, and it did just that. Wash. U. raced to second place in front of Emory by just .16 seconds to propel the men’s team to the University Athletic Association indoor title on Sunday in New York.
“It was like a last-second shot in a basketball game. It was pure elation,” head coach Jeff Stiles said. “The whole team on the sideline was going crazy, and when you put your heart and soul into it and get a result like that—it’s really the best part about athletics.”
It was the second consecutive year that the 1,600 relay team delivered a dramatic team title in the closing seconds. Last year, the Bears secured the conference title with a .85-second victory over the University of Chicago to win the conference by one point. This year, the relay team, consisting of seniors James Fitzhugh, Britt Henderson, Alex Bastian and junior Deko Ricketts, clinched a two-point victory over Emory in the team standings.
“We knew that all we had to do was beat Emory. Emory was in the heat before us, and so we saw what time they ran,” Ricketts said. “I remember watching last year and going just about as crazy watching those guys, but it felt great to be on the relay team this time. It was a true team effort and an incredible weekend.”
The quartet’s time of 3:19.01 broke the previous school record by over 1 1/2 seconds.
Meanwhile, the women’s team cruised to its first conference title since 2012 with 167 points, well ahead of the University of Chicago’s 128 points. The victory ensured that the men’s and women’s team would win both conference titles for just the fifth time in school history.
In total, the two teams seized seven event titles, highlighted by junior Daisy Ogede, who shattered four school records and three UAA records in the process of winning four titles.
Ogede posted a time of 24.72 to win the 200-meter race. In the 60-meter races, Ogede broke her own UAA record in the sprint with a winning time of 7.63 seconds and then set another UAA record to win the hurdles in 8.85 seconds. Ogede was a part of the winning 1,600-meter relay team as well, teaming up with junior Kelli Hancock, junior Rebecca Ridderhoff and senior Emily Warner to race to a UAA-record time of 3:48.04 to secure the event title.
“There aren’t enough letters in the alphabet to describe Daisy’s performance,” Stiles said. “It had to be the greatest performance in the history of the conference.”
Other notable event winners include Warner, who posted a UAA-record time of 56.91 to triumph in the 400-meter race, and senior Ellen Toennies, who won the women’s mile with a time of 5:08.89.
With the UAA championships safely locked in the trophy case, the Bears will look to add to their hardware when they compete in the NCAA Indoors Championship on March 11-12. Before that, however, some members of the Red and Green will participate in the Pointers NCAA Qualifier in Stevens Point, Wis., next Saturday.