Track sprints toward championships

Bradley Piros, Courier Staff

MACOMB, ILL. – The Western Illinois University track and field teams are looking to hit the ground running as they compete in the Summit League 2018 Indoor Track and Field Championships this Friday and Saturday. The Leathernecks have had an impressive season up until now, but now it’s time to go out and show what they can really do.

They’ll be competing against all of the other five Summit League schools, as it’s shaping up to be a great competition. As of right now, North Dakota State University is the favorite to win the whole thing, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to do it without a good fight from everyone else.

Western is coming off of a rather bumpy meet; the last time out for Leathernecks was just last weekend as they traveled to the University of Illinois to compete in the annual Orange and Blue Open. They didn’t place all that well, because they were up against some good competition like Missouri Baptist University and the Butler Bulldogs, along with not having their normal starting squad. Either way, a couple Leathernecks still shined individually to pick up some points.

The best finish of the day was from sophomores Abigail Richter and Nicole Beebe as they finished 2nd and 3rd in the 1-mile run. They crossed the finish line simultaneously with a time of 5:16.19. Fellow sophomore Jacey Roper also competed in this event, picking up a 9th-place finish with a time of 5:34.28.

In field events, sophomore Michaela Busch finished 3rd in the high jump, with a mark of 5-02.25 (1.58 meters). Freshman Claire Young finished in 5th with a jump of 5-00.25 (1.53 meters). Fellow freshman Amelia Peterson finished 5th in the long jump with a mark of 15-11.75 (4.87 meters).

Other than these couple of performances, it was a quiet weekend for Western, as they watched Northern Illinois University and Illinois State University completely cruise past the competition. They look to learn from this tough meet and better themselves for this weekend’s championship

So, what are some other things you should look out for? An interesting thing to keep an eye on is the men’s pole vault. Competing in that event is South Dakota University’s Chris Nilsen. The sophomore from Kansas City, Missouri was just named the National Athlete of the Week and is ranked eighth in the world, as he just recorded the fifth highest NCAA pole vault at 19-00.25 (5.80 meters). He looks to beat that record and sweep the event.

Three pole vaulters from SDU are ranked in the National Top 20. That includes Nilsen and his fellow teammates Ethan Bray and Helen Falda. The pole vault competition will surely not want to be missed.

Last year North Dakota State swept the championships winning in the women and men’s divisions. It was the third consecutive year that they’ve done so, and they look to repeat yet again. This will be the fourth time the championships are held at NDSU, and the home team wants to make their town proud.

Heptathlon and Pentathlon events will kick off the championships at 9:30 a.m. of Friday. Events will be spread out over the next two days, but majority of the qualifying as well as some final events will continue until Friday at 7:20 p.m. Things will kick off again Saturday at the same time, and finals events will take place at 3:55 p.m., with the 4×400 Relays.

If you would like to keep upwith the action there will be livestreams on The Summit League’s website, as well as continuous updates from their Twitter page.

Twitter: bradjp08