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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
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Indoor Track excels at conference meet

Sarah Burnell ’14 and Eloise Miller ’15 participate in relays at the Darren Young Classic on Feb. 15. Photo by John Brady.

The Pioneer women’s and men’s track and field teams had a strong showing at the Midwest Conference Indoor Championships held at Cornell College last weekend. The men landed a third-place finish, while the women received fourth place.

Sarah Burnell ’14, who was named the Midwest Conference Track Performer of the Year, was victorious in the mile-run and helped the sprint medley relay team win on Friday, as well as taking first place in the 800-meter run on Saturday.

“I was really nervous before [my races], but during [them], all my teammates were around the edge of the track cheering me on,” Burnell recalled. “I wouldn’t want to run for any other team because [of] the support that I get, the support that we all give each other and the passion we all have to see each other win. That’s more meaningful than running the races.”

Burnell was ranked first in the mile and the 800-meter heading into the Conference meet, which put pressure on her. Expectations, however, seemed not be a problem.

“[Being ranked first] makes me nervous because I know I am the target for a lot of other people who are seeded pretty close to my time,” Burnell said. “There is also that expectation to deliver. It does give me a little bit of confidence, but mostly nervousness at the beginning.”

In the sprint medley relay race, Burnell joined Rachel Fritts ’14, Eloise Miller ’15 and Christine Ajinjeru ’14 in the victory. The quartet established a new school record by clocking in at 4:11.75, nearly three seconds faster than the runner-up squad.

Sarah Burnell ’14 and Eloise Miller ’15 participate in relays at the Darren Young Classic  on Feb. 15. Photo by John Brady.
Sarah Burnell ’14 and Eloise Miller ’15 participate in relays at the Darren Young Classic on Feb. 15. Photo by John Brady.

“It’s gotten to the point where we run a race and it’s not to break a record, but it’s for the fun,” Ajinjeru said. “Before the sprint medley we wanted to beat St. Norbert so badly and we wanted to beat Monmouth, so that was our goal going in.”

Daja Tyree ’16 also set a school record in the 60-meter hurdles, a record she set earlier in the year. In the distance medley, the team composed of Toni Androski ’16, Fritts, Sam Kubica ’16 and Eva Smith ‘16 finished second.

Diana Seer ’15 also placed second in the 5000-meter run, while Ajinjeru and Miller received third in the 400-meter run and in the triple jump, respectively.

The men’s side was highlighted by a one-two-three sweep in the 5000-meter run. Adam Dalton ’16 won the race with a time of 15:25.46, while Frank Canady ’14 placed second and Ben Tyler ’14 finished third.

“It was a fun race because my teammate Frank Canady led about half to two-thirds of the race and set a really great pace,” Dalton said. “It was awesome to have our team go one-two-three.”

Dalton ended up finishing more than 11 seconds ahead of Canady.

“We knew there was a good chance of [sweeping] in the 5k, but it still is very rare,” wrote Will Freeman, men’s track and field head coach, in an email to the S&B. “The last time we swept an event was back in the early ‘90s. It speaks to the talent in the long distance group.”

The top three winners of the 5000-meter run also fared well in the 3000-meter run. Tyler, Canady and Dalton placed second, third and fourth, respectively.

Nate Kolacia ’16 won the mile with a time of 4:27.86, beating the runner-up by nearly three seconds. Zack Angel ’15 received third place in the same event. The men’s distance medley relay team of Anthony McLean ’17, Jonathan Braun ’17, Kyle Moorehead ’15 and Angel also placed second.

The end of indoor conference has the athletes and coaching staff looking forward to the rest of the season. A number of important outdoor season meets, including the Jim Duncan Invite and the Drake Relays, await the Pioneers.

“I’m hoping to make the Drake Relays in the 10k. The time standard is pretty [achievable] for me,” Dalton said. “That would really be an awesome chance to make the Drake Relays. It is nationally regarded as being one of the biggest meets. Statewide, it is regarded even higher. It has this almost-hallowed status.”

Ajinjeru is still savoring her last track season.

“It hasn’t hit me yet,” she said. “We’re the ones hosting the Outdoor Conference, so I think that’s when it’s actually going to be like, this is the end.”

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