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Track & Field piles records, prepares for Darren Young

Jordan Young ’14 practices her weight throw. Photo credit John Brady.

The Pioneer women’s and men’s track and field teams performed exceptionally well at the Grinnell College Invitational, held last Saturday in the Charles Benson Bear ’39 Recreation and Athletic Center. While both squads placed fourth in the 12-team field, individual students also shone.

Jordan Young ’14 returned this season after a season-long hiatus, as she studied abroad last spring, and won fourth place in weight throw. She threw an impressive 13.75 meters (45 feet, one and a half inches), besting the Pioneer record set in 2005 by nearly five feet.

“[The] Conference meet my sophomore year [was] the last indoor meet [I] had, and I was within six inches of the previous school record, so I was hopeful that I would get there this year,” she said. “It’s good to come back after being gone for a year and be able to pick up where I left off and continue to work hard and have some success.”

Jordan Young ’14 practices her weight throw. Photo credit John Brady.
Jordan Young ’14 practices her weight throw. Photograph by John Brady.

Christine Ajinjeru ’14, who began running in the 60-meter dash recently, shattered the school record that she established two weeks ago at Cornell College’s Hilltop Invitational. She ran the event in 8.23 seconds.

Her first place finish in the 400-meter dash was also a school record-breaking performance. She beat the runner-up by more than two seconds and finished the race in just 58.74 seconds. The previous record was 59.19 seconds set by Camarin Bailey in 2000.

“My coach didn’t tell me I was running the 60 until the night before,” Ajinjeru admitted. “Doing the 60 actually helped me with my nerves because, when I was running the 400, I had gotten [them] all out of my system.”

Sarah Burnell ’14 and Nate Kolacia ’16 each won first place in their respective 800-meter runs. Burnell beat the second-place finisher by more than four seconds, while Kolacia finished three seconds ahead of the runner-up in his race. In other events, Gavin Warnock ’14 was a runner-up in the triple jump. The women’s distance medley relay team of Toni Androski ’16, Ellen Pinnette ’15, Alethea Cook ’16 and Eva Smith ’16 claimed second place while Colton Silvia ’17, Gus Fulgoni ’15, Matthew McCarthy ’17 and Kyle Moorehead ’15 took third place in the 4×400 relay.

Evelyn Freeman, head coach of the women’s team, believes the players are now well-adjusted to the four-year-old Fieldhouse, scheduled site of the 2016 NCAA Division III National Indoor Track and Field Championships.

“Part of our success and all the records we’re breaking even early in the season have to do with moving into our new facility,” Freeman explained. “This is the fourth season we’ve been in here. [In the old facility] we had to adjust our workouts to keep people healthy rather than the kind of workouts that we needed to get in shape. Now we have one of the best athletic indoor tracks in the country.”

Freeman further praised the facility and mentioned its role in other areas besides winning.

“When students come here and they recognize that we have had success and they come and they see our phenomenal facility,” she said. “I think that also aids in the recruiting process, so we’re able to attract more talented athletes here.”

As for the members of the team, they plan to push themselves to make personal improvements, as they prepare to host the biggest meet of the season, the Darren Young Classic, which will take place tomorrow at 10 a.m. in the Bear.

“I’m excited,” Ajinjeru said. “I just want to see how it will all unfold because, at the beginning of the season, [breaking records] was not something that I set out to do. It’s been a great two weekends in a row, so I’m really excited and I hope that I use the momentum to keep going throughout the season.”

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