Bitter winds and saturating rain could not stop the track team from demonstrating its eagerness for the conference meet.
A crew of Linfield’s distance runners traveled to Salem, Ore., on April 2 to compete at the Willamette Invitational.
Running a lifetime best in the 1,500-meter race, sophomore Nelly Evans finished in 4 minutes, 51 seconds to place 13th in a 36-player field.
Distance powerhouse senior Marci Klimek followed suit in the women’s 5K. She ran a season-best of 17:45 and placed 10th out of 26.
Senior Frances Corcorran recorded a season best in the women’s 10K with a time of 39:06.
Late in the evening, seniors Chris McIsaac, Shawn Fisher and Tyler Davis and sophomores Scott Gage and Arian Anderson competed in the men’s 5K. They placed 19th, 24th, 38th, 52nd and 59th, respectively.
The following day, Linfield hosted the Jenn Boyman Invitational, in which the team overcame blustery weather and performed at full potential.
On the women’s side, freshman Melany Crocker was the runner-up in both the 100 and 200 races. She ran 13.27 and 22.73, respectively.
Crocker’s season goal is to beat her lifetime bests (12.81 in the 100 and 26.7 in the 200) and to qualify for finals at the conference meet April 23.
Crocker attributes her success this season to the workouts that head coach Garry Killgore assigns every week.
“[The workouts] are hard, but they’re making us better and preparing us for conference,” Crocker said. “It takes hard work.”
She has proved to be a vital cog in the women’s sprint events. Having already hit qualifying times in the 100, 200 and 400, as well as both relays, the freshman out of Milwaukie, Ore., will spend the next two weeks preparing for the conference championship along with the rest of the team.
Evans also took second in the women’s 800. Her time of 2:22 was a season-best and qualified her to run the race at the conference championships.
In the men’s hammer throw, senior Clint Moore threw 146 feet, 8 inches, to finish third.
Killgore said that Moore will be an athlete to watch as conference and nationals approach. His steady improvement and consistent strong showing demonstrate the threat he will pose to other teams, Killgore said.
Freshman Kyle Pfeifer captured his goal of qualifying for conference by throwing 135 feet, 8 inches.
The Wildcats nearly swept the javelin: Seniors Jeremy Lovell and Josh Scheel and freshmen Patrick McMahon, Clayton Cooper and Joshua Melander placed second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.
In the women’s 400 hurdles, junior Brooke Bekkedahl won the event with a time of 1:07.57.
Sophomore Barrett Zetterberg and senior Mike Eldredge worked together to fight off two falls in the men’s 400 hurdles.
Despite nearly wrecking over a hurdle on the back stretch, Zetterberg finished second.
Eldredge came down the final 100-meter stretch on Zetterberg’s heels, only to take a plunge on the final hurdle and drop back to finish fourth.
With conference quickly closing in on the team, Killgore said he is confident that the quality of this season’s athletes will shine through when they are called to battle in Spokane, Wash., on April 23 and 24.
The team will be competing at Pacific University on April 10 in the Pacific Luau.
Sports reporter Nic Miles can be reached at email@example.com