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The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
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Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
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Grinnell track hosts MWC meet, women take fifth

By Max Calenberg

With the building of a state-of-the-art facility, the track and field team will not have to worry about training in substandard facilities for a long time. This past weekend Grinnell hosted the Midwest Conference Championships in the Charles Benson Bear ’39 fieldhouse, as the women ran to a fifth place finish and the men into sixth.

Grinnell Assistant Coach Jen Jacobsen, left, yells split times to Ben Tyler ’14 during the Distance Medley Relay on Friday of the Midwest Conference Championships. Photo taken by Ben Brewer.

“The running of the meet went really well. How could it not in such a fine facility, because this is one of the finest indoor tracks in the country at any level,” said Women’s Head Coach Evelyn Freeman. “We had some great support from the community and from the students, and the staff as far as helping with the administration of the meet and the officials. Everything went great. “

From a runner’s perspective, hosting the meet was just more motivation.

It was great, especially being indoors, you can hear everyone cheering for you. Having fans there makes running the races a: that much more enjoyable and b: gets you that much more excited,” said Sarah Burnell ’14. “Because you’re on your home turf and you have everyone there watching, it’s a big moment.”

On the women’s side, the Pioneers got strong performances from Burnell, who placed third in the 800-meter in 2:19.3. Stephanie Rouse ’13 ran to fourth in the 3000-meter race with a time of 10:47.60. Additionally, the 4×400-meter relay composed of Meg Rudy ’14, Burnell, Christine Ajinjeru ’14 and Isabelle Miller ’13 took fourth in 4:10.76, which is just a second away from the school record.

Meg Rudy ’14, right, shakes President Raynard Kington’s hand upon receiving the bronze medal in the Distance Medley Relay on Saturday. Photo taken by Ben Brewer.

“For doing four races in two days, I think I performed pretty well.” Burnell said.  “I definitely didn’t run my fastest times this season, but they were pretty good for being a little tired and not fresh.”

In terms of the 4×400 record, Burnell thinks the group has a good chance of snagging it.

“I think we have a pretty good system going. We’re all run around the same time and so it all works nicely,” Burnell said. “It’s exciting, the times that were running right now, we just need a little step farther. But [Coach] Will [Freeman] seems pretty confident that with the extra work we’re doing, we’ll get it.”

Finally, the distance medley relay team of Leah Russell ’11, Samantha Bates ’12, Rudy and Ajinjeru finished in 13:07.67, earning them third.

For the men, Noah DeLong ’11 turned in an impressive performance, winning the mile by .47 of a second with a time 4:25.42.

“When it went out slow, I felt pretty good and so I took the lead and we dropped the pace a lot, and basically stayed there until the last lap when there was a kick by a Carroll runner and I ended up being able to get him the last 50 meters,” DeLong said.

Sam Goldstein ’11 leaps out during the Long Jump competition during Saturday’s Midwest Conference Championships. Photo taken by Ben Brewer.

The victory was a milestone in DeLong’s Grinnell career.

“It felt really good,” DeLong said. “I’ve had second, third, fourth, fifth places in various races, but never a first. I’m glad I was able to get one before I graduate and hopefully more outdoors.”

Also on the men’s team, Shyam Deshpande ’11 took fourth in the mile with a time of 4:26.85. Alex Reich ’11 finished fifth in the 5000-meter race in 15:40.77. Dylan Boucher finished a close 55-meter sprint in fourth with a time of 6.64 seconds.

“Unfortunately I was nudged out of the third position by like .001, thousandths of seconds,” Boucher said. “They actually had to zoom in on the photo to see who got that spot. It was a very tight race.”

Overall, the women’s team jumped from ninth place last year to fifth this year while the men fell one placed, from taking fifth last year to sixth this year. For where they are in the season though, Coach Freeman isn’t worried.

“We are already at a disadvantage cause we start our season so late because our break is so long. By the time we hit our first meet, most of the other teams in the conference have had three track meets,” Freeman said.

Team Captain Maia Olsen ’11 attributes the jump for the women to several factors.

“I think a lot of it is the new facilities. … In indoor in the past we had nothing to do work with. … It just has been an energy booster to get to do hard workouts as sprinters,” Olsen said. We’ve got just some great first-years, we just had a really talented group of first-year girls that came in. some people were really solid in high school but then you’ve got Christine Ajinjeru. We found her out of nowhere she was just amazing. She was in all four relays and did really really well. I think most of our relays were carried by underclassmen. ”

From now until the outdoor track season, the team is going to do everything they can to be successful.

“Now we want to get more fit. We’ve got three weeks before spring break. We don’t have any track meets. The focus is on ‘let’s get even more fit than we are now,’” Freeman said. “It was really inspiring to see how much they’ve improved just in the few weeks we’ve had during the indoor season.”

Part of that process involves a team trip over Spring Break. Although the team has gone to Myrtle Beach, SC in the past, this year they will fly to Point Loma in San Diego, CA. The switch up, according to Freeman, is due to wanting to reduce travel time to meets and to just try something new.

As a first-year, Burnell is excited for the opportunity presented.

“I’m excited to spend time with the team, It will just a week of us working out and eating food together but we also we have this really nice competitive meet that were going through,” Burnell said. “So Will Freeman is hoping that well find some fast times there.”

As someone who has gone to South Caroline, Olsen is ready for the new setting.

“I’m very excited,” Olson said. “I think it will also be nice to switch up locations. We’ve gone to South Carolina the past two years. … It’s going to be gorgeous and beautiful weather.”

With the entire outdoor season in front of them Freeman is optimistic about the next few months.

“All of us coaches, we were really pleased with the performances of our athletes and we’re all excited heading into the outdoor season about our prospects. Everyone is training hard with great attitudes,” Freeman said.

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