Falcons are in stride for nationals

Chris Harper

By Chris Harper

Rain has yet to wash out the Falcon track team.

On Saturday, April 14, Seattle Pacific University made the NCAA Division II provisional qualifying list in the 4-x-100 relay, with a winning time of 46.83 seconds in the Jay Hammer Meet at Saint Martin’s University.

“We give all glory to God,” Renick Meyer, one of the members of the 4-x-100 relay team, said. The other members of the relay team were Julia Stepper, Becca Houk and Grace Bley.
The team kept a lighthearted and cheery mindset, despite the downpour of rain and cool winds, Meyer said.

The mindset paid off, with their winning time coming within six hundredths of a second of the SPU school record, made by the 2013 4-x-100 team, of 46.77 seconds.

Along with the women’s 4-x-100 success, the track team saw several other first place victories: Becca Houk earned a 12.35 in the 100, Julia Stepper got a 25.03 in the 200, Grace Bley earned a 58.27 in the 300, Sedona McNerney raced a 18:40.94 in the 5000, and Meyer earned a 14.67 in the 100 hurdles.

The men’s side of the track team only won one event in the entire meet, Austin Matzelle’s pole vault of 12-11 1/2. For the past six months, the team has been preparing for the opportunity to compete at Nationals; they are nearly there.

“Our mindset right now for the team is getting faster. We have to believe in one another before we even step on that track because any doubt can change the race,” Julia Stepper said of the team and their ongoing quest for Nationals.

While the team is proud of their recent success with the previous meet, they are aware of the upcoming task at hand.

“We will continue to work hard these next few weeks. We want to be the best we can be, and that only comes with practice and hard work” Grace Bley said.

Besides getting faster, the team is already aware of small details that will propel them to the next level, such as cleaning up handoffs and other little things.

The life of a student athlete can be quite stressful during the season, with the constant juggling of travel, practice, homework and social life being taxing at times. “With the mindset of nationals you really have to give 100 percent effort in practice and in your studies,” Stepper said. Within all that stress, the coaches are with the athletes every step of the way, especially within academics.
SPU’s time ranks No. 13 nationally, as of Saturday evening. It was the third week in row that Meyer, Stepper, Houk and Bley have run together in the 4-x-400. They posted a 47.41 at the UBC Open on March 30 in Vancouver, then lowered that to 47.09 at the WWU Team Invitational last Friday in Bellingham.

Next Friday, the team will compete at the Bryan Clay Invitational on the first half of their Southern California trip. The Falcon coaches initially were not going to enter the 4-x-1, focusing instead on other events, however those plans changed as soon as Saturday’s performance was officially in the books.

Becca is quite eager for the upcoming meet in California, as it is one of her favorite trips to make. “In the past, California meets have always been a place where season bests happen. I am excited for this trip, and to see what our team can do.”