Falcons dominate GNAC long jump records

SPU track goes wild at Wildcat Invitational

Isabella Tranello, Sports Editor

Sophomore distance runner Ellie Rising takes a practice start before the 800m at the Doris Heritage track festival. (Rio Giancarlo)

With the end of April quickly approaching, the Seattle Pacific University track and field team made the almost two-hour journey to Ellensburg, Washington to compete in the Central Washington University Wildcat Invitational on Saturday, April 23. 

The Falcons expertly jumped into the pool of competitors and made their presence known at the CWU Recreation Sports complex. SPU athletes were prepared to take the gold back to Seattle. 

Senior sprinter and jumper Peace Igbonagwam put her whole heart into her performance in the women’s long jump on Saturday and came out of the event with not only a victory but also history-making marks. 

Ibonagwam won the long jump with a career-best of 6.00m and beat her previous best of 5.88m, which was set in the 2019 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships. This previous personal best earned her the first of the three consecutive GNAC titles that she has gained over the last three years on the SPU track team. 

Not only did she win this event and mark a new personal best, but Ibonagwam also has moved into the SPU and GNAC history books. Following this meet, her jump has ranked her No.4 in all-time Falcon history of the women’s long jump and No. 2 in all of the GNAC. 

Only one person stands in the way of Ibonagwam reaching the No.1 position in all of the GNAC and that is former Falcon Renick Meyer. Meyer set the record in the 2018 conference heptathlon with a jump distance of 6.22 meters. 

As of now, all of the top six positions in the GNAC women’s long jump rankings belong to current and former Falcon athletes. Following Meyer and Ibonagwam are Stephanie Huffman, Ali Worthen, Kyra Brannan and Danielle Ayres-Stamper. 

Sophomore distance runner Ellie Rising also performed beautifully in the women’s 1500m run and won SPU’s second event of the meet. Rising clutched the win with a near photo finish as she pulled ahead of the second-place finisher by only half a second. 

Rising completed the race with a time of 4:44.99 as she narrowly beat Eastern Washington University’s Lily Fetzer, who clocked a finishing time of 4:45.54. 

Although the Falcons did not win any more events at the meet, junior distance runner Libby Michael and freshman distance runner Nicki Yorges came close. Michael competed in the women’s 800m run and clocked a time of 2:19.69 to win second place. 

Freshman distance runner Nicki Yorges finishes strong at the Dempsy Indoor facility earlier in the season. (Rio Giancarlo)

Yorges also took home a second-place victory in the women’s 3000m run as she crossed the finish line with a time of 10:38.21. 

Sophomore sprints and relay runner Aniya Green ran two events on the CWU track and came out with a new personal best and SPU’s third second-place finish of the day. In her first event of the day, Green ran the women’s 100m dash and came fifth with a new personal best of 12.65 seconds. 

Green did not make it into the top three of the women’s 100m dash, but she did in the women’s 200m. She ran a time of 25.86 seconds and secured the second-place finish. 

On the men’s side of the meet, sophomore distance runner Jon Owen continued his long journey of achieving a time below the four-minute mark in the men’s 1500m run as he posted a second-place time of 4:01.36. He was only two seconds off from achieving this goal but became one step closer as this finish marked a new personal best for Owen. 

This race was another close call as Owen and the first-place winner, Northwest University’s Micah Murphy, pushed tightly against each other as they crossed the finish line. In the end, Murphy took the win at a time of 4:00.99

Following this meet, the Falcons will compete in two different events that will both take place on Saturday, April 30. Most of the SPU men’s and women’s track teams will travel to Bellingham, Washington to compete in the Ralph Vernacchia Invitational. 

A select group of SPU sprinters will travel back to the sunny skies and palm trees of Clovis, California for the second time since Friday, April 1, to compete in the Fresno State Invitational. 

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