After two days of events on April 20 and 21 at the Pacific Lutheran Track & Field Facility in Parkland, Wash., the NWC Championships drew to a close, and the Wildcats proved that they were a team that had to be respected throughout the entire competition.
Leading the way for the Wildcats on the first day of the Championships was senior All-American Catherine Street. In the pole vault, Street cleared a bar of 13 feet, 9.75 inches to win her fourth straight conference title. Street left the competition in the dust; she beat the runner-up by 3 feet and the previous conference record by 1.5 inches. By doing this, she also set the all-time Division III outdoor record for the pole vault.
Street was not the only person who had success at the competition. The Linfield Track and Field team entered the NWC Championships with a lot of confidence. Although they were not favored to win, the men’s and women’s teams finished in fourth and third place, respectively. They believed they could represent Linfield in a more impressive fashion than had been done in a few years, and they accomplished that goal in fine fashion.
On the women’s side, sophomore Anna LaBeaume defended her NWC shot put title with a toss of 42 feet, 9 inches. She also threw a career best in the hammer and won the event in the process, with a throw of 46.59 meters.
The standout 4×100 relay team of junior Melany Crocker, freshman Halsie Peek, senior Misty Corwin and Street won their race with a school record time of 48.61 seconds.
Crocker added to her relay victory with a second place finish in the 100-yard dash with a time of 12.60, and a third place finish in the 200. Her 200 time of 25.10 was the second-fastest in Linfield history.
Other female victories for the Linfield team included junior Shanna Peaden,who took second in the 10,000-meter with a time of 38 minutes, 43.28 seconds. Junior Nelly Evans also took second in her 800-meter race, just barely missing out on first place with a time of 2:18.95.
On the men’s side, the distance runners had success on both days of the competition. Junior Scott Gage, senior Arian Anderson and sophomore Joe Gladow finished second, fifth and seventh, respectively in the 10,000. Gage ran with a time of 31:51.48, Anderson with a career-best 33:01.55 and Gladow with a 33:10.64. Senior Alex Van Slyke placed third in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a career-best time of 9:32.25.
Gage, Van Slyke and Gladow also impressed in the 5,000 on day two. Finishing fourth, fifth and sixth. Gage ran a 15:31.45, Van Slyke a 15:32.94 and Gladow a 15:36.22.
The two-lap race also showcased three Linfield runners.
Juniors Lester Maxwell and Lucian Battaglia, along with senior Eric Weinbender, grabbed third, fourth and sixth place by the horns. Maxwell ran a 1:56.88, Battaglia posted a 1:56.94 and Weinbender a 1:57.73. Weinbender also added a fourth place finish in the 1,500 with a time of 4:00.78.
A few more running successes were the 4×100 relay team of senior Clayton Cooper, freshman Colin Nelson, junior Jason Cheyne and sophomore Nick Turner, who took second place with a time of 43.36. Cooper, Battaglia, Maxwell and Nelson also finished fourth as a team in the 4×400 relay with a season-best time of 3:23.24.
Nelson continued his busy day with a career best time of 50.10 in the 400, which was good enough for fourth place. Sophomore Michael Madden and senior Barrett Zetterberg finished third and fourth, respectively in the 400 hurdles with times of 57.02 and 57.43.
The success of the Linfield team was mainly because of the outstanding efforts from athletes who had been here before. Freshman Calvin Howell, who competed in the 10,000-meter run, talked about the inspiring performances of his older teammates.
“Seeing the older athletes dominate the competition inspires me to work hard and try to be as successful as them in the future. They are role models.”
As the championships end, these role models enter competitions to try and qualify for the NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships begin. The first test for Linfield athletes comes at the Lane Twilight in Eugene, Ore., at 3 p.m. on April 27. If we learned anything else about the team this weekend, the Linfield athletes will show their mettle in many areas of the competition.
Tyler Bradley/Staff writer
Tyler Bradley can be reached at email@example.com.