Surpassing new heights

Daniel Newman

Four members of Seattle Pacific University’s women’s track team headed off to Kingsville, Texas last week to compete in the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships. When they returned home, Scout Cai and Kate Lilly returned as All-Americans.

“All-American status in an individual event means that I have proved myself to be the competitor that I have wanted to become since I came to SPU,” said Lilly. “Finally achieving this two and a half years later allows me to look forward to bigger and better goals with the confidence that I’m ready to do so.”

To be an All-American, competitors have to finish in the top eight in their event at the national championships. Lilly finished in fifth in the 5-kilometer race, and Cai managed to achieve the feat twice, finishing eighth in the pole vault and seventh in the heptathlon.

The heptathlon was the first competition that Cai took part in, and she scored well, gaining a total of 5,054 points, a career best. She got off to a slow start, finishing 15th in the 100-meter hurdles, but still posted a season best time. She rebounded to finish third in the high jump with a jump of 5 feet and 4.5 inches. Cai rounded off her Thursday by getting fifth place in the shot put and putting up a season best time in the 200.

As Friday rolled around, Cai was tied for eighth place. A 10th place finish in the long jump pushed Cai back into tenth place overall, but again, she rebounded.

Cai finished in fourth in the javelin, throwing 126 feet and 8 inches, and in fifth in the 800. These finishes gave Cai seventh place in the competition and a place on the podium for the first time in her career. Taking first place was Lauren Huebner from Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan, totaling 5,364 points.

Cai moved on to the pole vault on Saturday. She would clear 12 3/4 on her first attempt and 12-4 3/4 on her second, but would fail on her first two attempts at 12-8 3/4. Cai chose to switch to a bigger pole for her last attempt, and she cleared the bar, securing an eighth-place finish in the event.

After failing to qualify for the final in the 1500, Lilly and Dania Holmberg bounced back to have much better races in the 5k. Not having to race in the final of the 1500 gave the pair more of a chance to rest before the race. As the race progressed, Lilly and Holmberg continued to move up in the race. Lilly moved from seventh, to fifth, to third, and back to fifth. In only her third time running the distance this the year, she finished as an All-American.

“The national championship is always more intense than any other meet of the season. I hope that bringing home a trophy is a way to give back some honor to the program and its people that have so radically shaped me during my time in it,” Lilly said.

Holmberg gave a valiant effort in the race and was near the middle of the pack for most of it, but her legs gave out on her near the finish. She struggled across the line to finish in eighteenth.

Kaylee Mitchell also made the trip, and competed in the 3000 steeplechase, but bowed out of the race after the 800 meter mark.
In other news, the All-GNAC academic team was released, and 12 Falcon women and four Falcon men made the list.

Finally, when the All-West region track and field list came out, there were four Falcons on it. Cai was on the list for both heptathlon and pole vault, while

Lilly made the list for the 1500. Mitchell made the list for the 3000 steeplechase, and Renick Meyer made the list for the long jump.