Falcons Heat up in California

Daniel Newman

The Seattle Pacific University Falcons men’s and women’s track teams were moving quickly through the state of California last week, as they had two different meets to compete in.

Even with the busyness of the week, Falcon athletes still managed to get season bests and personal records in their various events.

Assistant coach Chris Reed saw having so many events in so few days as both an advantage and a disadvantage. The athletes were competing on tired legs, but it helped them build a positive mindset and prepare them for championship level racing.

Kicking off the week for three of the Falcons was the Bryan Clay Heptathlon at Azusa Pacific University on April 17 and 18.

Renick Meyer won the 100-meter hurdles in her group, finishing the race in 14.39 seconds. The time was her best of the season in the event. Meyer finished the 200m dash in sixth, but achieved a season best time along the way, and got a career best mark in the shot put.

The shot-put was a good event for all three Falcons on the first day, as Scout Cai also achieved a career best in the event, and Kellie May got a season best mark. Cai also ran a 26.02 in the 200m dash, which was a season best for her in the event.

Moving on to day two of the competition, Meyer had another great beginning. She got second place in her group in the long jump, jumping 18 feet and 7 inches. Meyer also had a season best performance in the javelin, throwing it 104 feet and 8 inches.

Cai’s best event on the day was the long jump, where she jumped 18 feet and 1.5 inches, and May had a good day in the long jump as well, finishing in eighth in her group.

When the competition finished, Meyer and Cai, who competed in the same group, finished in seventh and fifteenth place respectively. Meyer’s point total for the seven events was 4,925, a season best for her. May, who was competing in another group, finished in eleventh.

The night of the 18th marked the beginning of the Bryan Clay Invitational, where the Falcons competed in the 5k race. Eight Falcon runners competed in the race, six on the women’s side and two on the men’s.

Kate Lilly and Dania Holmberg finished the race in under 17 minutes, improving their chances to qualify for the National Championships in the race. Kaylee Mitchell ran the race in 17:16.79, and Kelsey Washenberger, Katherine Walter and Sedona McNerney finished with times slightly over 18 minutes

On the men’s side, Colby Otero ran the race in under 15 minutes, also putting him in a good position to qualify for the championships in his first attempt at running the 5k in college. Elius Graff also competed, finishing the race in 15:32.79.

Lilly, Holmberg and Otero all competed in the 1500m run the next day, and all three turned in career best performances.

“They stepped up to the plate,” said Reed of the distance runners. Reed said that the competition at the Azusa meet was some of the best in the country, and that the runners deserved their success.

Falcon sprinters also ran very well on the day, achieving personal best performances left and right. Grace Bley and Jenna Bouyer both broke the 25 second mark in the 200m dash. Rebecca Troesher ran the 400m dash in 58.18 seconds and Krystal Kaufman ran the 800m run in 2:12.80.

On their final day in California, some Falcons competed in the Long Beach Invitational.

Peace Igbonagwam achieved a personal best in the 100m dash for the second day in a row, and teamed up with Bley, Bouyer and Meyer for an eighth-place time in the 4x100m relay. Meyer also had a jump of 18 feet and 10 inches in the long jump, and Igbonagwam managed a jump of 18 feet and a half inch. Troescher again ran the 400m dash in a time under 59 seconds.

The season is beginning to wind down for the Falcons. Next weekend, they will compete in the Ralph Vernacchia Invitational at Western Washington University in Bellingham.

The weekend after, they will compete in the Ken Shannon Invitational at the University of Washington. This will be the team’s last meet before the GNAC championships take place on May 11-12 at Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Oregon.

All eyes for the Falcons are now pointed to the championships. In the meantime, the goals for the athletes will be to stay healthy, stay sharp and continue to improve on times for running events and distances for throwing and jumping events, so athletes can qualify for conference and national championships later in the season.