Successful six

SPU track and field athletes gain national ranks, All-American honors

Uriah Aguon, Staff Writer

Peace Igbonagwam is one of the six SPU track and field athletes who was a top competitor at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on May 28th. She will now be headed towards championships. (Courtesy of Kyle Cajero)
Annika Esvelt is another athlete among the six who will be headed to championships. (Courtesy of Kyle Cajero)

The 2022 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships were held from Thursday, May 26 through Saturday, May 28. SPU sent six athletes to the championship: senior sprinter Vanessa Aniteye, senior sprinter and jumper Peace Igbonagwam, senior sprinter Jenna Bouyer, sophomore sprinter Aniya Green, sophomore distance runner Annika Esvelt and junior sprinter and jumper David Njeri. 

Out of these six, three athletes competed in multiple events. Igbonagwam and Aniteye both competed in the 4x100m relay but while Igbonagwam was competing in the women’s long jump, Aniteye competed in the women’s 400m dash.  Esvelt ran in both the 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter races. 

The 4x100m relay team consisting of Igbonagwam at the lead, Aniteye in the second leg, Green in the third leg, and Bouyer as anchor finished 10th with a time of 46.30 seconds. Following the relay, Igbonagwam finished 16th in the women’s long jump with a distance of 5.60m.

Aniteye placed sixth in the women’s 400m dash. Her finishing time was 53.64 seconds, breaking the previous school record of 54.18 set by Aniteye herself during the preliminaries of the NCAA Championships. As a graduating senior, this was Aniteye’s last outdoor race of her college career, which makes this accomplishment all the more fitting. 

Esvelt finished 10th in the women’s 5,000-meter run with a time of 16:40.70, and fourth in the women’s 10,000-meter run with a time of 33:51.65. Esvelt’s finish in the 10,000-meter marks the 38th time out of the 40 years of Division II nationals that SPU has been marked on the top scorers. 

This was also Esvelt’s second trip to the NCAA Championships. In late February, she qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships during the GNAC Indoor Championships. She placed first in both the 3,000-meter and the 5,000-meter runs with respective times of 9:50.84 and 17:31.71. During the NCAA Indoor Championships in mid-March, she placed eighth in the women’s 5,000-meter run with a time of 16:31.12.

Following Esvelt’s performances, she has been honored with first-team All-American status for the 10,000-meter and second-team All-American for the 5,000-meter. She is also one of ten women and one of six GNAC athletes to make the CoSIDA Academic All-District Team.

Njeri placed 18th in the men’s triple jump with a distance of 14.12m. This mark was unfortunately below Njeri’s season-best of 15.81m due to a hamstring injury he sustained during the Great Northwest Athletic Conference on Friday, May 13.

Whether they are holding a trophy or a medal or nothing at all, every athlete should be proud of their effort. They should be able to say they did their best for their team. If they have done that much, they have passed the test of champions.