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Harvey Wilhelm
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Track and Field face tough competition in meet

John Brady
John Mertes ’15 sprinting last weekend. Photo by John Brady.
John Mertes '15 sprinting last weekend.  Photo by John Brady.
John Mertes ’15 sprinting last weekend.
Photo by John Brady.

The men’s and women’s track and field teams earned respectively 10th and seventh place finishes at last weekend’s Darren Young Classic. The meet attracted some of the nation’s finest Division III track and field teams, and was meant to serve to tune up the Pioneers by giving them a healthy dose of competition.

“This meet, we had some of the top teams in the country. Wartburg has won Nationals numerous of time and Augustana is ranked in the top schools in the nation,” said women’s head coach Evelyn Freeman. “One of the reasons we invite these schools is not necessarily to get trounced but to inspire ourselves to perform up to the level of the competition.”

Freeman said that unlike baseball and football where scores are meaningful in every game, track and field is different, as the only meet that matters is the Conference Tournament.

“Our goal is not so much to jump that farthest or highest, it’s working on a technical aspect that we have been working on all week to see if we can do that part well and then we can move on to the next one to refine our skills,” Freeman said.

“It’ll be a great strategy moving forward into Conference having just raced really good people,” said Diana Seer ’15.

Seer and Eloise Miller ’15 were standouts for the women Saturday. Miller finished second in the long jump with a leap of 16-11 ¼ and placed third in the 400-meter dash with a time of 1:00.32, the fourth fastest time in program history.  In the 5000, Seer finished as the runner-up with a time of 19:15.15.

“This was my first time running the 5K since last season. I didn’t perform as strongly as I had hoped, but within the field I placed second so I was very pleased with that. I think the training is doing its job, where I am not at peak level right now, but will be soon,” Seer said. 

Even though there has been much shuffling among the team in placing runners in different events, Seer knows she will run in the 3K and 5K in Conference.

“I’ve always run the 3K and 5K in Conference just because I am a cross-country runner and I just do the distance events,” Seer said. “I also might be doing one of the legs in the distant medley relay, which will be a new thing for me.” 

The men’s team also had a strong showing, highlighted by strong performances in both relay and individual events.

The 4×200-meter team, made up of Dixon Romeo ’16, John Mertes ’15, Jonathan Braun ’17 and Ed Hardman ’16 finished seventh with a time of 1:35.89. Despite this showing, however, Mertes did not think the team ran to their full potential.

“We ran okay, but still have a lot of room to improve. If we all ran as fast as Ed [Hardman], we probably would have won. I think I’m leading off this weekend, so hopefully that can help us drop some time,” Mertes wrote in an email to The S&B.

Mertes’ success was not limited to the relay, as he ran the 60-meter dash in 7.49, the sixth fastest time in program history. More impressive is the fact that Mertes, who is primarily a linebacker for Grinnell’s football team, has not run track since high school. 

“I ran a 7.49, which is not bad for my second 60 of the season, but I still have a lot of room to improve. After not running track since high school, I forgot how technical some aspects of sprinting can be, so it’s taking some time to get back up to speed,” Mertes wrote.

In the pole vault, Luis Hernandez ’15 finished ninth with a 11-7 ¾ leap and Ibuki Ogasawara ’17 also finished ninth in the triple jump with a leap of 36-2 ¾. Connor Gregorich-Trevor ’18 and Matthew McCarthy ’17 finished 19th in the 3000 and the 800 respectively.

Looking ahead, the Pioneers will participate at the Wartburg Invitational next Saturday, although much of the team is already thinking about Conference.

“We have a meet this Saturday, but I know the sprinters are focused on Conference in two weeks. Right now it’s about getting healthy and working on the little things to run well for the end of the indoor season,” Mertes said.

The meet at Wartburg begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

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