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The Scarlet & Black

Records set at Darren Young Classic

The men’s and women’s track and field teams won big at the Darren Young Classic last weekend, their second consecutive home meet of the indoor season. Nate Kolacia ’16 and Sarah Burnell ’14 placed first in their respective mile runs and were given the honors of Midwest Conference Men’s and Women’s Track Performer of the Week, respectively.

Kolacia, who also finished in first place in his 800-meter run at the Grinnell College Invitational two weekends ago, finished his race in 4:22.17. He edged the runner-up by seven-tenths of a second.

“I had a good year last year and, fortunately, it’s carried over into this season,” Kolacia said. “I’ve been pretty happy with how things have been going and hopefully I can keep getting better. I’ve gotten a lot stronger this year [and] I can definitely feel that. When I run, my form has vastly improved and keeps getting better.”

Diana Seer ’15 finished first in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 19:01.93, in which she bested the runner-up by nearly 17 seconds. She has competed in several of the distance-related indoor events, but considers the 3K and 5K her events of preference.

“I was really happy about [my performance],” Seer said. “I went in with a goal. I talked to my coach about what I should hit for every lap and what my final time should be. Winning the race was just the cherry on top of hitting my goal time.”

Diana Seer ’15 won her race by nearly 17 seconds at last weekend’s Darren Young Classic. Photograph by John Brady.
Diana Seer ’15 won her race by nearly 17 seconds at last weekend’s Darren Young Classic. Photograph by John Brady.

Seer, whose time gave her the eighth fastest time in program history, attributes her win to the coaches.

“Listening to my coach shouting out my times for every lap was really helpful at keeping that goal and adjusting where I needed to adjust,” Seer explained. “What’s really cool is that our coach has introduced a new weightlifting routine, which I think has helped a lot in terms of keeping up strength and endurance while doing these longer races. I can feel [myself] getting faster as the weeks go on.”

Jordan Young ’14, landed a fifth place finish in the weight throw, topping the school record she set on Saturday, Feb. 8 at the Grinnell Invitational. With an impressive 14.45-meter toss, she bested her previous record of 13.75 meters.

“I have higher expectations of myself going into the conference meet in terms of performing well and earning points for the team,” Young wrote in an email to the S&B. “I think it would be great to break 15m, but I’m just taking it one throw at a time.”

Nora Bresette Buccino ’16 established a new school record in the 60 meter hurdles with a time of 10.34. Christine Ajinjeru ’14, who has broken Pioneer program records each meet thus far, ran the 200 in 26.65, garnering third place and breaking Grinnell’s previous record of 27.01, set in 1997.

With the record-breaking performances, last weekend’s meet had some sentimental value for athletes.

“It’s always fun to host an invitational, especially with such great alumni support,” Young said. “I think this meet was special for our seniors in that it was the last time we will compete at home indoors.”

After this weekend’s Wartburg Invitational in Waverly, Iowa, the teams will compete in the Midwest Conference Indoor Championships in Mount Vernon, Iowa. The Pioneers are excited about what lies ahead of them.

“I’m really hoping to win the 5K at Conference,” Seer said. “As of right now, on the conference website, I’m seeded as the fastest time—hopefully it stays that way. [I also want to place] in the top five in the 3K at Conference.”

Kolacia has his sights on not just Conference, but also on a bigger stage down the road.

“I would like to make [Nationals] as soon as this outdoor season,” Kolacia said. “And from there maybe All-American, if it all came together.”

Like the athletes, the men’s team’s head coach Will Freeman is also quite optimistic about the team’s potential.

“We have a truly outstanding group of seniors,” Freeman expressed in an email to the S&B. “Our focus has been rhythmic work thus far. I have high hope[s] for all three events at conference. My hope is to see us in the top three [at both indoor and outdoor Conference meets], to get some folks to Nationals, and to see every athlete improve.”

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