Track and field transitions to outdoor season



Getting prepared to start the race.

Bradley Piros, Courier Staff

MACOMB, Ill. – The Western Illinois track and field teams look to get things started on the right foot this weekend after a rather disappointing end to the indoor spell about a month ago. Now it’s time to transition back outside to finish off the latter half of the season.

While some of the venues these athletes travel to are usually far more comfortable and nicer than most boring outdoor tracks, everyone runs better times outside. Take it from me, a previous 4×800 runner, something about being inside with all the dry air makes it a little harder to breathe and results in some slower times.

With that in mind, the Leathernecks definitely did not perform to their normal standards at the Summit League Indoor Track and Field Championships. The men finished last out of five teams (20 points), while the women finished sixth out of seven teams (16.5 points).

A couple athletes did shine that weekend though, one of them being sophomore Michaela Busch in the field events. She had Western’s best finish in the meet, coming in fourth place in the high jump with a mark of 5′ 4.50″ (1.64 m). For the men, freshmen Elliot Gongora and Jace Norman each earned personal bests with an identical mark of 6′ 4.75″ (1.95 m).

Continuing on to track events, freshman Hailey Tranchitella, sophomores Megan Reed and Abigail Richter, as well as senior Jamieria Stennis teamed up in the distance medley and recorded their best time of the year (12:24.48), as well as the seventh fastest time inschool history.

Other than that, a couple of other athletes came in with some personal bests, but didn’t end up getting their team any points, resulting in an overall lower finish as a team. In the end, no one was stopping North Dakota State University anyway, not even their rivaling Jackrabbits of South Dakota State University could put a stop to them.

Scouting Southern Illinois University; their last time out was at the NCAA Championships, but they seemed to have performed better at the Missouri Valley Conference Championships also about a month ago. The men finished third with 105 points while the women finished fourth tallying 90 points. The Illinois State University Redbirds topped the field all around against their seven other competitors.

Overall the SIU Salukis earned 14 top-three finishes thanks to some spectacular individual efforts. Be on the lookout for Shafiqua Maloney as she scored a spectacular 26 points, reaching the podium three times. She also won the 400-meter dash which was the programs best finish in 22 years.

In field events Josh Maier and Ricky Hurley each scored 14 points to help lift their team up as they are also a couple of athletes to watch. Also keep an eye out for MVC (Missouri Valley Conference) Most Outstanding Field Athlete, Isaac Ingram in the weight throw. It was the third straight year he has won that award.

Field events are scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Friday morning with track events following shortly after. If you want to catch the Leathernecks at there one and only home meet, it will be April 5-7 as they host the Lee Calhoun Memorial. Until then, expect a great meet between the two sides as Western looks to learn from the fall season, and start off even stronger than before in the spring.