Whitworth competes well in first outdoor meet of the year

To start off the 2012 outdoor season, the Whitworth track and field team dominated in the majority of its events at the Willamette Opener on Mar. 3. At the same time, three other athletes from the team traveled to the UW Last Chance meet to try and improve their NCAA conference standings for the indoor season. In addition to the Pirates, Willamette University and Western Oregon University competed in the event, as well an Oregon community college and a local Oregon club.

“The men’s [team] dominated. The women’s [team] also competed strongly,” head coach Toby Schwarz said looking back on the meet.

The men dominated in almost all of their events. Junior Carter Comito and sophomore Sam Wright finished in first and second for both the shot put and the discus ,respectively. Comito won the shot put with a 53’ 8.5” toss, and the discus with an NCAA automatic qualifying distance of 187’ 3”. Wright was not far behind in second with a shot put toss of 51’ 2.75” and a discus throw of 160’ 10”.

Sophomore Keegan Shea and senior Jake Pierce continued the Pirates’ winning streak, finishing first and second in the hammer throw, with Shea reaching a lifetime best of 177’ 5” and Pierce at 172’ 3”.

In the javelin, Whitworth placed first, second and third place with junior Joseph Ingram, senior John McCormack and freshman Chase Wright. Ingram threw 197’ 8” and McCormack threw just behind him at 197’ 7”, qualifying both of them provisionally for the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Wright threw 185’ 4”, placing third.

The Pirate men also finished in the top four places in the long jump, with sophomore Jonathan Hoffman jumping 21’ 8” to place first. Sophomore Tyler Guinn was runner-up, and junior Shannon Winant and sophomore Peter Delap were third and fourth, respectively. All four jumped further than 21 feet.

In the 100-meter dash, sophomore Trent Alsin ran 11.15 to win the event, then placed second in the 200-meter dash with a time of 22.91. Junior Steven Acosta also did well in running events, winning the 800-meter run in 1:59.20 and placing third in the 1,500 meter run at 3:58.76.

In the steeplechase event, senior Trent Dudley ran a winning time of 9:38.20, adding to the Pirates’ growing list of achievements at the meet. The 10K run was also won by Whitworth, with senior Aaron Jenkins running the event in 33:16.53. Senior Shane Polley, who is also a distance runner, said the meet today went well overall.

“[The team’s goals were] to do the best we can, to the best of our abilities, and to glorify God,” Polley said. “These are our goals for every [meet].”

The Whitworth men continued to do well in the relay event, taking first in both the 4x100 and the 4x400.

The women also did well, with freshman Christina Anderson winning the 10K race in 40:16.35, and freshman Christina Dobbins finishing well in her events. Dobbins placed second in high jump, with 5’ 1”; second in 100-meter hurdles with a time of 15.63; and third in 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:09.06.

According to Schwarz, the women’s team has 34 members, with 19 of them new this year.

"Over half the team is young but [they] have a lot of talent,” Schwarz said.

Polley said the Willamette meet was only the beginning for the team.

“It’s the beginning of the [outdoor] season, [and] our first meet,” Polley said. “We have more to work off of but it’s a good start.”

As 57 of the Whitworth athletes went to the meet in Willamette, three others traveled to the University of Washington for the UW Last Chance meet. The meet was organized  for athletes to improve their chances to compete in the 2012 NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships next week.

Sophomore Jheri Gates improved her last year’s best in the high jump by more than 3 inches. She finished third in the event, clearing 5’ 6.5”, and moved up into the top 10 in conference standings. Junior Frank Lima also competed in high jump at the UW meet, improving his season’s best from last year and finishing fourth in the event at 6’ 9”.

Schwarz said that Lima was already ranked No. 13 in conference standings, and fought to maintain that position during the meet. The official field for the Championships will be announced on Monday, March 5. “They did what they needed to do,” Schwarz said.

Polley said the weather lately has been a little difficult, with the ice and snow making practice outside more difficult.

Schwarz agrees that the weather has been a struggle lately.

“Every day you don’t know what the weather is going to do,” Schwarz said. “It’s a challenge.”

To compensate, Schwarz said he takes the throwers into the Fieldhouse, and sometimes sets up the indoor track for the runners to practice on. The team also uses the fitness center and weight room to their advantage.

“We make do with what we have,” Schwarz said. “A lot of times we just tough it out and go outside.”

The Pirates’ next meet will be the NCAA Division III Indoor Championships on  Mar. 9 and 10 at Grinnell College in Iowa.

Story by Meghan Dellinger Staff Writer

Contact Meghan Dellinger a mdellinger15@my.whitworth.edu.

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