SPU track athletes finish season strong before GNAC Championships

Rising continues to excel in the 800m run, Njeri wins the men’s triple jump

Isabella Tranello, Staff Reporter

David Njeri won the triple jump with a jump of 14.28 m and is currently the GNAC leader in the event. (Jacky Chen)

David Njeri took home the only win for the men’s track team on Friday, gaining victory in the triple jump with a distance of 14.28 m and coming up just shy of his personal best jump of 14.64 m. Njeri has shown great perseverance this year after bouncing back from a hamstring injury that put him out for six weeks. Despite the injury, he is currently the GNAC leader for triple jump.

“This year has been quite interesting. After I got back into competition, I have set personal bests in the jumps, and all I can say is that I am thankful for the opportunity to even have a season back, after COVID took our season last year,” Njeri said.

The regular season for SPU outdoor track and field concluded this weekend as the team travelled to the Ken Shannon Invitational at the University of Washington’s Husky Track for their last competition before the GNAC Track and Field Championships next week in Monmouth, Oregon.

The Falcons entered the competition this Friday riding the momentum of senior Scout Cai’s record breaking performance last Friday in the pole vault and senior Renick Meyer’s heptathlon championship win, setting the Falcons up for a successful day.

Senior Dania Holmberg won the women’s 1500 m with a time of 4:34.83. (Jacky Chen)

The men placed within the top three in four events, but only came out with the one win from Njeri, However, they still produced many favorable outcomes throughout the afternoon.

In the men’s 400m dash, Julius Shepherd placed second with a time of 50.62 and in the men’s 800m run, Brayden Schultz also landed in second place with 1:57.31, both setting a new personal best. In the men’s pole vault, Brad Bowman placed in third place with a height of 4.25m.

The women had an eventful afternoon as the women athletes scored within the top three positions in 10 out of the 13 events. They took home one more win then the men, gaining two total.

The first win was achieved by junior Dania Holmberg in the women’s 1500 run with a time of 4:34.83. In the women’s 800m run, freshman Ellie Rising captured the last win of the day with a time of 2:11.91. This time is a new personal best for Rising, a time she has been working to consistently lower all season long.

“This season I have been more focused on time than placing. I have been doing a lot of speed workouts in practice, which is something I didn’t focus on as much in high school, so I think that definitely has contributed to my consistently improved times. Having teammates to push me and coaches to help me realize my potential has had a huge impact on my races as well.” said Rising.

Grace Bley and Julia Stepper took home second and third place for the women’s 100m dash. (Jacky Chen)

Sophomore Kelsey Washenberger placed second in the same race with a time of 2:19.24, eight seconds behind Rising, and beat her own personal best in this race as well.

Renick Meyer and Scout Cai were unable to pull out the victories at the meet after their previous monumental wins, but they secured substantial points for the team as they placed second in their respective events. Cai ended with a height of 3.70m in the women’s pole vault and Meyer reached a distance of 5.53m in the long jump.

Meyer finished second in yet another contest as she teamed up with seniors Grace Bley and Julia Stepper, and Jenna Bouyer in the 4×100 relay race with a time of 46.55. This time was fast enough to put the group of athletes onto the NCAA II provisional qualifying list.

Like Meyer and Cai, Bley recorded a second place win as she competed in the women’s 200m dash with a time of 25.19, alongside relay teammate Stepper, who took third in the race with a time of 25.87.

Jenna Bouyer starts the first leg of the 4x100m relay, which the team finished with a time of 46.55 seconds, which puts them into the NCAA II provisional qualifying list. (Jacky Chen)

In the women’s triple jump, Kellie May placed third with a distance of 10.73m. Finally, in the women’s 400m dash, Charisma Smith raced against the clock and finished third with a time of 1:01.20, narrowly missing second place by only one second.

The Falcons now look forward to Friday and Saturday as they will compete in the GNAC Championships, hoping to take home the conference titles.

This competition is also the last chance the Falcons have to add to their point values before the official qualifying list for the NCAA Championships comes out. To qualify for the NCAA Championships, athletes must be in the top twelve of all competitors in their respective events.

“As we head into championships next week, I have a focused mindset, I am prepared to get out there and give it all I got, just taking it as my last meet of the season, to see what I can accomplish,” Njeri said.

The women plan to make a comeback this year after losing the opportunity to defend their title in 2020 due to COVID-19 cancellations.