Aniteye dashes into SPU history books

Rowing faces double competition

Isabella Tranello, Sports Editor


The four pictured in the middle, senior sprinter and jumper Peace Igbonagwam, sophomore sprinter and relay runner Aniya Green, senior sprinter Jenna Bouyer, and senior sprinter Vanessa Aniteye competed in the women’s 4×100 relay race and placed within the top three where they competed in the West Coast Relays in Clovis, California. Pictured with them is freshman sprinter Emelia Ballard (far-left) and senior pole vaulter Emily Northey (far-right). (Courtesy of Vanessa Aniteye)

Goodbye clouds of gray, hello skies of blue and high temperatures. 

On Friday, April 1, the Seattle Pacific University men’s and women’s track teams traveled to Clovis, California to compete under the hot rays of the sun in the West Coast Relays. 

The Falcons did not win any of the events during the meet, but it was still a successful trip for SPU. Although SPU did not record any wins, there were f

our events that the Falcons placed in the top three. This was not the end of the Falcons’ achievements. 

A six-year standing SPU record was broken, six athletes finished their races with NCAA qualifying times and 12 new personal bests were achieved. 

Sophomore distance runner Annika Esvelt was the closest to winning an event at the meet as she took second place in the women’s 5000-meter run with a time of 16:14.31. This race was Esvelt’s outdoor debut in the 5000-meter and she was only six seconds off of Colorado State University senior Sarah Carter’s time of 16:08.95.

Esvelt’s time was enough for her to snatch the No.2 spot on SPU’s all-time list for the 5000-meter, trailing former Falcon Jessica Pixler’s time of 15:44.07 set in 2010. Following the meet, Esvelt was ranked No.2 in the 5000-meter for all Division II. 

Before this meet, Esvelt was also named the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year for the 2021-2022 indoor season. She was honored alongside freshman pole vaulter Charlie Hill, who was named the GNAC Newcomer of the Year. 

Junior sprinter and jumper David Njeri also made his 2022 outdoor season debut in the long jump and triple jump. Njeri has competed in these events in prior seasons, but this was his first time competing in both outdoor events this season. In these two events, he accounted for two of SPU’s four top-three placements. 

In the men’s triple jump, Njeri placed in second place with a distance of 15.18m. He lost to the first-place winner from CSU junior Allam Bushara. Njeri was only off of Bushara’s distance of 15.23m by less than a full meter. Njeri also placed third in the men’s long jump with a distance of 6.93m. Both distances were new personal bests for Njeri. 

The last event in which the Falcons placed within the top three was the women’s 4×100 relay race. The team was comprised of senior sprinter Vanessa Aniteye, senior sprinter and jumper Peace Igbonagwam, senior sprinter Jenna Bouyer and sophomore Aniya Green.

The four-women relay team finished second behind the winning team from San Jose State University with a time of 46.70 seconds. This same group of women also competed in the 4×400 relay race, but fell just short of the top three and placed fourth with a time of 3:45.91.

This time marked the first time that SPU has clocked a time under 3:50.00 in the 4×400 since 2018.

These two races were not the end of one relay member’s achievements. Aniteye went on to run the 400-meter dash with a finishing time that landed her a place in the SPU record books. This would be her first time running the 400-meter and her first SPU record as a Falcon since her transfer from the University of Alaska Anchorage in the 2021-2022 winter season. 

Aniteye finished the race with a time of 54.60 seconds. She broke the school’s previous 400-meter dash record of 54.68 set by Jahzelle Ambus on April 30, 2016, by eight-hundredths of a second. Her time was also one of the six NCAA provisional marks set by SPU during the meet. All three of her races were included in SPU’s NCAA provisional marks for the weekend. 

Esvelt and sophomore Ellie Rising are the other two Falcons to gain NCAA provisional marks after their races. Rising placed seventh in the 800-meter run with a new personal-best time of 2:11.83. 

The Falcons’ next meet will be in Tacoma, Washington at the Pacific Lutheran University Invitational on Saturday, April 9. 


SPU Novice 8+ charges down the Montlake cut during the UW open regatta. (Rio Giancarlo)

The SPU rowing team had a busy day on Saturday, April, 2, as the team competed in two different meets in two different states. While most of the team journeyed 2,555 miles to Sarasota, Florida to compete in the Florida Intercollegiate Rowing Association Regatta, one crew of novice rowers stayed back to compete in the Husky Invitational in Seattle hosted by the University of Washington. 

The first-year rowers took on two experienced crews from the University of Puget Sound and Seattle University in the Third Varsity/Novice Eight race on the Montlake Cut. SPU placed third in the race led by freshman coxswain Sara Mach with a time of 8:08.27.

On the other side of the United States, the other members of the SPU crew prepared their boats for flights on Cooper Creek in Sarasota, Florida. The Falcons competed in the Varsity Eights and the Varsity Fours before splitting their varsity eight crew into two boats to compete in two additional varsity four races. 

In the Varsity Eights, the Falcons placed third out of seven teams behind second-place Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and first-place Barry University with a time of 6:47.96. This boat was led by senior rower LeeAnn Arrington from the coxswain seat. 

The Falcons placed third for the second time on Saturday in the Varsity Fours with a time of 7:58.29. Embry-Riddle took first as they bypassed the previous winners of the Varsity Eights, Barry, who took second. 

The Falcon’s top four-oared crew also competed in another race. Although the times were not listed on the final results, SPU took the victory and beat Embry-Riddle by a very slim margin in the final seconds of the race.

When the Varsity Eight team split their crew and competed in the Varsity Fours “B” race, the crew took a decisive victory over Embry-Riddle, Florida University and New College of Florida with a time of 7:35.29. This team was composed of rowers Danielle Johnson, Natalie Korolenko, Jacinta Grandel, Kalais Samuelson and coxswain Jessica Vester.

The other half of the Varsity Eights crew competed in the final regatta of the day and placed fourth with a finishing time of 7:46.06. This crew included rowers Megan Popielak, Macie Leach, Elise Arkills, Hannah Miller, and coxswain Arrington. 

The Falcons will compete next on Saturday, April 9, at home on the Lake Washington Ship Canal in Seattle against rivals from Cal Poly Humboldt and Western Washington University.