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Track and Field runs past Jim Duncan

After+tying+her+school+record+in+the+400-meter+dash%2C+Christine+Ajinjeru+%E2%80%9914+hopes+to+qualify+for+Drake+Relays.+Photo+by+John+Brady.+
After tying her school record in the 400-meter dash, Christine Ajinjeru ’14 hopes to qualify for Drake Relays. Photo by John Brady.

In one of the bigger events of the outdoor season, the men and women’s track and field team gave a strong performance. Christine Ajinjeru ’14 especially shone in the Jim Duncan Invitational, which was hosted in Des Moines on Friday to Saturday, April 11-12, as she tied her own school record in the 400-meter dash with a time of 57.37.

“My goal was to use my competition—the people who were running with me,” she said. “My goal was to use the people in my heat to pull me through my race because when you run with faster people, you’re going to run faster too because you want to run with them.”

In a competition where she competed with runners from Division I schools, as well, Ajinjeru overcame both physical and mental obstacles to pull through.

“My greatest fear is to run in lane seven and eight in the 400 because I feel like it’s the longest since they are along the curves,” she admitted. “It feels like I’m running more. Going in, I was in lane seven and trying not to see anyone [in front of me] as long as possible because that is always a good sign.”

After tying her school record in the 400-meter dash, Christine Ajinjeru ’14 hopes to qualify for Drake Relays. Photo by John Brady.
After tying her school record in the 400-meter dash, Christine Ajinjeru ’14 hopes to qualify for Drake Relays. Photo by John Brady.

Ajinjeru also joined Rachel Fritts ’14, Eloise Miller ’15 and Sarah Burnell ’14 to post the school’s second fastest 4×400 relay time with 4:00.29.

“We were shocked in a really good way,” Ajinjeru said. “Rachel, who started the leg, had just run the 400 hurdles and 100, as well, so we were surprised by the time we ran. Eloise is battling a quad injury, as well. But at the same time, the training prepared us for that. Last year, the time we used to qualify for Drake Relays was way slower than this.”

Fritts, who joined the track and field team only this year, has been contributing to the squad as soon as she joined.

“There’s always pressure because I am running with some very talented girls, who have been working at this sport much longer than I have, but I think mostly it’s exciting,” she wrote in an email to the S&B. “I’m just lucky to have the opportunity to be on the relay team at all, and I do as well as I can with what little time and training I’ve had in this sport. Of course I will never fully be satisfied with my time, but a big motivation to push myself harder and get my time down each week is helping to make the 4X4 team the best we can be.”

Ajinjeru complimented Rachel’s effort this season.

“It’s been a blessing to have [Rachel],” she said. “It’s nice that she came out this year. With the way things have worked out with injuries, her presence has helped a great deal.”

Burnell also continued her outstanding performance from the National Indoor Championships by placing third in the 1500-meter run. She finished the race in 4:44.70. Jordan Young ’14 had a solid day in the throws, placing fifth in the shot put, seventh in the javelin and 12th in the hammer.

The men’s side also had shining moments at the Jim Duncan Invitational. With his performance last weekend, Frank Canady ’14 became the 10th fastest 5000-meter runner in Grinnell school history. He ran the event in 15:09.69, which is also his personal best record.

“Getting closer to the record board is always good,” Canady wrote in an email to the S&B. “The best thing I can do with the rest of the season is improve my times.”

Canady also welcomed the challenge of competing against Division I athletes.

“Going against Division I runners is always a good thing,” he said. “We don’t do this in cross-country so being able to do it at Jim Duncan is always a welcome opportunity.”

Jake Lindstrom ’14 added to the exceptional performance and placed fifth in the pole vault with a jump of 13-5 ¼. Ed Hardman ’16 ran the 100-meter dash in 11.39 to finish sixth and the 200-meter in 22.71 for an eighth place finish.

The Pioneers brought their momentum to the Central College Open in Pella, Iowa on Wednesday, April 16. Lindstrom gave another quality performance, leaping 13-3 ½ to win the pole vault to lead the Pioneers. Colton Silvia ’17 placed fourth in triple jump while the 4×400-meter relay team of Jonathan Braun ’17, Hardman, Silvia and John Gallagher ’17 placed fifth.

On the women’s side, Miller finished second in her triple jump event and concluded the meet with a fourth place finish in the long jump. Meanwhile, Ajinjeru carried her momentum and took third in the 200-meter dash and fourth in the 100.

“There was a really strong tailwind, so that pushed us forward,” Ajinjeru said. “The shorter races help me have a powerful start in the longer ones. If I can get out of the blocks really fast and have a powerful and fast eight steps, it would make a huge difference in my 400.”

The qualifying members of the track and field team will look forward to the Drake Relays, hosted in Des Moines from April 24-26. The Pioneers will look to make a splash as they prepare to sharpen their skills in time for the meet.

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