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Grinnell track and field teams produce multiple record-breaking performances at Mustang Open

Paige+Olowu+%E2%80%9825+streaks+down+the+lane+ahead+of+the+Buena+Vista+competition.
Paige Olowu ‘25 streaks down the lane ahead of the Buena Vista competition.

Grinnell women’s track & field finished second of 11 teams at the Mustang Open at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, April 9.  

This is the first non-optional meet in the outdoor track & field season, and the weather at the Open was brisk but sunny. “Everybody got sunburned,” said Sadie Staker `24. 

Staker championed the 400-meter hurdles with a 1:08.31 time, the third best in Grinnell’s history. Staker has held the 3rd place standing since the Midwest Conference South Division Championships on May 15, 2021 when she ran a time of 1:08.5 seconds. At the same meet, Staker was named Newcomer of the Year for her performance. 

Since Staker began her Grinnell Track & Field career last spring, she has worked to improve her technique. 

“In between each hurdle, people usually take a specific number of steps,” Staker said. “I used to always take four all throughout high school and now I’m working on only taking three, which can make you go a lot faster.” 

Staker’s still working on this, she said. At the meet, Staker said she took three steps before the first two hurdles, then slit back into taking four steps.  

Staker was not the only victor at the Open. Sonia Edassery `24 won the 400 Meters with a time of 1:04.71.  

The 4×400-meter relay team, comprised of Paige Olowu `22, Maile Crowe `25, Sam Reid `24 and Athena Frasca `22, won with a time of 4:16.29. Similarly, the 4×800 team with Micaela Daney `22, Reid, Allison Rabbani `25 and Lily Keane `22 won with a time of 10:36.85. 

In the triple-jump, Melanie Oden `25 placed second with a jump of 32 feet, 2 1/4 inches. This leap lands Oden at the 10th spot for Grinnell’s all-time triple jump record. 

In total, the team earned 126 points, up from 51 points and a ninth place finish at the last time the team competed at the Open in 2019. 

This is the first complete track & field season led by Jeff Pederson `02 and assisted by Sarah Burnell `14, who coaches the men’s and women’s team and replaced Will Freeman and Evelyn Freeman. 

Pederson is the head coach and Burnell is the assistant coach for the men’s and women’s team, and replaced men’s team coach Will Freeman and women’s team coach Evelyn Freeman in 2020.  

So far, both teams have placed at meets similarly to how they placed in 2019, the most recent complete track & field season.  

Athletes on the men’s team pulled similar victories at the Open. Aiden Gilbert `23 championed the long jump with a leap of 22 feet 4 1/4 inches, moving him from seventh to fifth on the all-time Grinnell leader board. 

Zach Willis `22, Andrew Nickeson `23, Eli Brotman `25 and Declan O’Reilly `22 won the 4×800-meter relay in 8:04.12 seconds. 

Grinnell hosts the Dick Young Classic on Saturday, April 23. The meet begins early at the Darren Young Track and Field Complex. Admission is free.  

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Nina Baker, Staff Writer
Nina Baker is a fourth-year Russian major with a Russian, Central European and Eurasian Studies concentration from Lakeville, Minnesota. When she's not reporting for The Scarlet & Black, she loves taking long walks, reading, and learning foreign languages.
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