The Whitworth men’s and women’s track and field team competed in the Twilight Invite last Thursday in the Pine Bowl where both teams took first place victories. With 124 and 120 total points scored by the men and women, respectively, both teams bested four other teams consisting of Lewis-Clark, Eastern Washington, Spokane Community College, and Washington State.
Since the Twilight Invite was the last opportunity for the athletes to qualify for the Northwest Conference Championships, seven men and 21 women were able to make and/or improve their qualifying marks.
The men’s team won eight events total with 35 top five finishes in various events.
“Since this is my first year [at Whitworth], I didn’t know that we were such a powerhouse team that had won conference six years in a row,” freshman Jared James said. “This year I feel our team has done exceptionally well and even with injuries that we have had, we have performed to the best of our ability.”
James won the triple jump with a personal best of 41‘3.25“ and also took second place in the pole vault with a personal best of 13’11.25“. Both marks qualify James to compete in the NWC Championship Meet.
Other first place wins came from sophomore John-Robert Woolley in the 110-hurdles event (15.60, personal-best), senior Nicholas Gosselin in the 200-meter dash (22.89, season-best), and junior Dane Larson in the long jump (20‘7.25“, season-best).
Larson, who has competed in various events this year including the 100-meter dash, 110-meter hurdles, pole vault, shot put, and others, did not officially qualify for the NWC Championships but received two wild card picks in both the decathlon and long jump events.
“I thought my season was over and I was very frustrated about it,” Larson said. “It was a very nice surprise the next morning when my coach texted me saying I had one more shot.” On the women’s side, the Pirates won six events total with 32 top five finishes.
“It was a high intensity meet because there were a lot of people that hadn’t qualified yet [for conference] and had to get those last minute marks,” freshman Olivia Lytle said.
In the jumping events, Lytle made NWC qualifying marks in a first place triple jump finish with a mark of 10.63m. Lytle also took first place in the high jump with a height of 1.48m and will compete in the championships in the high and triple jump events.
“I’m really excited to see how the team comes together at [the NWC Championships],” Lytle said. “I’ve heard the team aspect is a lot different at conference. Everyone watches and cheers each other on more than they do in the regular season.”
In the 400-meter dash, senior Katie McKay broke Whitworth’s school record with a second place finish and time of 58.56. McKay will move on to compete in the NWC Championships in the 400-, 800- and 1500-meter dash.
Senior Christina Dobbins took first place in the 100-meter hurdles (15.84) and will also compete in the championship meet in three events including the 100-meter hurdles, high jump and long jump.
Whitworth will have athletes compete in 38 different events in the NWC Championships in Portland, Oregon on April 22 and 23 beginning at 9.
“I believe this team is the type of team that will come together and really try to give it our best this year,” Larson said. “No matter the outcome, this team will lay everything out on the track.”