Every year now since the Illinois Track Club got serious about having a track season, the team has gone to Washington University in Saint Louis to kick off their outdoor season. All of the upperclassmen are excited to return to the magical Bushyhead track to race under the lights, and by the time spring rolls around, the whole team is excited to get on the big outdoor tracks. With the big heats, great competition for the whole team, and the excitement of the lights, everyone ran well this past weekend in Saint Louis.
Starting with the sprint folks, Coach Jack Skelton’s crew had a banner day, setting new club records in the women’s 100, 200 and 400, 4×1, 4×4, 100HH and 400H on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon. Sarah Sheehan, a freshman from Huntley, set the 100 and 200 records with times of 13.70 and 27.63 seconds respectively. Meanwhile, fellow freshman Lizzie Gauen set the club record in the 400 with a blazing time of 62.71 seconds. These races speak well for their future exploits with the club if they both are setting records so early in their club careers. Another highlight was that the girls’ sprint squad finally was able to field a full 4×1 comprised solely of sprinters, rather than mid-d fill-ins, with the team of Nishio, Evans, Murphy and Sheehan setting a new record of 52.78 seconds. They also, according to Coach Skelton, had some very successful handoffs, so that is a positive heading forward into championship season. The 4×4 of Gauen, Evans, Henderson and Cudnowski set a new record of 4:23.67 as well. To round out the record setting day, Nao Nishio set the 110 hurdles record of 18.64 and Cassie Arenz set the 400 hurdles record with 1:19.67. The guys sprint squad did not disappoint either, as Jack Skelton set a new record in the 400 with a 49.21, and he also helped bring the 4×4 across the line with another new record of 3:23.71. Other members of that record-setting effort were Ryan Jorgenson, Mike Brothers, and James Leigh.
Moving up to the mid-distance folks, the 1500 was a positive for the women, as Jo Dibuz ran 5:02.52, and fellow sophomore Megan McGreal won her heat with a time of 5:01.71 seconds. Megan ran out in front the whole race, pulling away steadily from the field and winning handily. In the men’s 1500, Maz Silva had a banner day, running 4:19.81 in the 1500 and coming back in the 800 to run a 2:09.37. It was certainly a good day for the freshman from Lane Tech. Mike Frigo and Brendan McDonnell moved down to do the 1500/800 meter double, and Frigo won the 1500 with a time of 3:54.11, and came back to place 8th in the 800 with a 1:56.57, while McDonnell ran 4:10.02 and 2:05.39, which is not too shabby for a long distance runner.
Continuing up the distances, the long distance team did very well on Friday night under the lights. In what might be a very impressive first (and showing Coach Jake Englander’s excellent prognosticating abilities), Jess Mulcrone was within .36 of her seed time in the 5000, running a superb 19:39.64. Meanwhile, Jess Ang set a PR by almost two minutes in the 10,000 with a 44:56, and Vicky Ngo-Lam ran a good race in hitting 22:16.62. On the guy’s side, Chris Valicka had an impressive outdoor 5k debut, and Andrew Gazdziak moved into the top 10 all-time with a 15:57.59. Lastly, in the 10k, Matt Birkel became #4 all-time with a 33:05.34, and Mark Hayes ran faster than double his 5k PR in hitting a 33:07.14.
In the field events, Katharina Rains set a new club record in the high jump with a leap of 1.50 meters. The throws had a great weekend, as records were smashed in both the shot and hammer. Chad Bobbit heaved the shot 12.84 meters for that record, and Matt Kmet launched the hammer 45.12 meters to break his own record.
The whole team is beginning to get into the swing of things as outdoors kicked off with a bang in Missouri. Now, its back to the grindstone with only a few weeks left before the all-important NCTFA Nationals meet at the end of April. We’re back to training hard, with parts of the team racing each of the next two weekends at Miami of Ohio and Benedictine. It was a great opening to outdoors, and we are looking forward to getting back on the track soon!