The Warriors race, throw and jump into the 2022 track season

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Zoe Contrares

Track and Field has commenced their busy 2022 season and we are so excited to cheer them on!

Kacie Kwan, Staff Writer

“Slow but eventful,” says third-year mid-distance runner Damien Ureste. Three words to describe the “On Your Marks” Open — the Warrior men’s and women’s first track meet of the 2022 indoor season that took place a couple weeks ago on Thorrington Field. Eight other schools joined the Warriors in competition, showcasing their hard work from weeks of pre-season training. 

Standout performances included third-year heptathlete Ryan Hooten and second-year Simeon Michelson who competed as Westmont’s one-and-only race-walker: an almost forgotten event Michelson determined to pick up after enduring plantar fasciitis last year. Hooten had the highest mark of the meet in the pole vault, with a height of 4.25 meters. 

Fellow third-year sprinter Dylan Lambert was successful in his two events, winning the men’s 300 and leading fellow 4×4 teammates Jack VandenHeuvel, Senzo Sokhela and Adam King to a first place victory that capped off their opening track meet. “My motivation for the season,” explains Lambert, “is to treat these early meets as workouts to help qualify for nationals … doing my best personally to help the team succeed as a whole.” 

As all eyes are set on qualifying for Nationals, several of our Warriors saw their hopes fulfilled that day. 

The men’s 4×800 team — John Baker, Andres Leon, Jack VandenHeuvel and senior team captain Jason Peterson — lost no time earning a B-standard qualification for Nationals.

Additionally, second-year and 2021 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Track Athlete of the Year Senzo Sokhela raced the 600 meters for the first time, not only winning the race with a time of 1:20.33, but coming just short of breaking the school record, which is 1:20.23. Such a time automatically qualified him for a spot to race in the 600 meters at Nationals.

Third-year mid-distance runner Adam King also joined Sokhela on the Nationals team, winning and qualifying in the men’s 1,000 meters. 

The women’s team also produced outstanding performances. 

First-year Kari Anema made her collegiate track debut and had a first-place finish alongside third-year Garrett Miller with a time of 10:31.51 in the 3,000 meter run. Anema is incredibly close to achieving a suitable time for a National qualification.

Miller felt especially caring that day as he also shared a first-place finish with fellow teammate and second-year Anneline Breytenbach in the mile.

Edging out a Vanguard athlete at the finish line with a time of 5:10.82, Breytenbach won the race and joined the team heading to Nationals. 

Repping the female pentathletes of Westmont — as the only female pentathlete of Westmont — is third-year Lily Sween who had quite the impressive start to her season, despite returning from a serious injury. She said, “The meet was exciting! I was nervous to compete after coming back from a torn hamstring tendon after last season, but I was thankful for every moment I got to get on the line or set up my approach to jump.”

Sween persevered through all five events to finish in first for the Warriors with 3,198 points … a score good enough to join her teammates at Nationals in a few weeks. She commented, “Finishing first and qualifying for Nationals right out of the gate was just a cherry on top of what was already a perfect day!”

Looking ahead, Sween hopes to qualify for outdoor nationals as well, “giving all the glory to God.”

We invite you to join us in supporting the Warriors as they prepare to race, throw and jump again at the Sunshine Invitational this Friday, Feb. 11 on Westmont’s Thorrington Field at 1:30 p.m. and 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb 12. Go Warriors!

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