Off to the races
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Every year, the Warriors are joined by many other teams to compete in the warm Santa Barbara sun at the Westmont Classic, Westmont’s Track and Field team’s inaugural outdoor meet. This year, the Classic boasted 571 athletes competing, from junior colleges to NCAA schools, to a professional pole vaulter.
The weather was mild and warm, with light tailwinds prevailing in the afternoon, and the Warriors took full advantage of the day by posting some impressive marks for its outdoors opener. Among those performances, four of those were qualifiers for the NAIA National Championship. Junior Madison Herrera posted a personal best and an automatic qualifier in the long jump at 5.77 meters (18’ 11.25”), and senior Taryn Phipps ran a 56.79 in the 400m to hit the automatic qualifier. Freshman Michael Oldach ran a brave race in the men’s 1500m, winning with a time of 3:55.91 and securing a provisional qualifier, while senior Joe Miller launched a 55.42 meter throw in the javelin, also landing a provisional qualifier.
In addition, the Warriors competed well and took wins in several other events. Junior Eric Wong won the men’s hammer throw with a new personal best of 44.39, beating his old best by more than three meters. “Personally, it was a good start to the season,” said Wong. “I came out with lifetime PB’s (personal bests) in the hammer and javelin and solid shot put and discus marks.” Kristen Germann responded in kind, taking the win in the women’s hammer with a throw of 42.61 meters.
On the track, junior Kyle Fredrickson ran an impressive 9:53.58 in the men’s 3,000m steeplechase to bring home a win for the Warriors, while the women’s 4x400m relay comprised of Taryn Phipps, Hope Geisinger, Katie Morhoff, and Emily Parks took a victory with a time of 4:02.18. The final win of the meet was brought home by senior Kelly Collins, who won the women’s 5,000m with a time of 18:04.92. Despite struggling with an on-and-off injury this season, Collins ran exceptionally well and opened her outdoor season in very good form.
In addition to their performance at the meet, Westmont was commended by head coach Russell Smelley in a meeting after the meet, who said “This team competes well, and is very capable of winning conference. We have a solid outdoor opener under our belts, now it’s time to get ready for GSAC.”
With the men four-time defending conference champions and the women very hungry to win after a hard 1.5 point loss last year, both teams have prepared for the conference meet all season, and the focus is apparent.
“For the team, it was a good opener with a few athletes hitting qualifying marks for nationals,” said Wong. “We also had some people winning their events and quite a few setting lifetime PB’s. I think we set a good baseline and foundation that we can build on for the rest of the season. I think we have a great team this year full of talent and a really good team bond, and I believe that both the men and women can come out of the season with a conference championships.”
After a week of rest and tuneups, the Warriors compete again at Concordia on Saturday.