Falcons finish with 6 victories

Though the track team split up last weekend, and two key members took the week off to rest, the Falcons still came away with six victories at the Spike Arlt Invitational in Ellensburg on Saturday.

Things are heating up for the track team as they near the climax of the season, but the Falcons are taking the pressure well. Over last weekend, SPU track had athletes proving their endurance by participating in a two-day heptathlon in California and an invitational in Ellensburg.

In Azusa on Thursday and Friday, four SPU women competed in the California Invitational Heptathlon, with senior Stephanie Huffman gaining 5,005 points and fourth place. Senior Leah Wiiest finished 15th with 4,400 points. And two athletes who are both on the mend from injuries, junior Laura Widman and sophomore Jennifer Pyeatt, placed 17th and 21st with scores of 4,339 and 4,086, respectively.

Huffman’s score was the No. 4 mark in the nation, in addition to being 72 points above her initial qualifying score in March. Wiiest scored a personal record of 2:23.54 in the 800-meter race. Widman, recovering from hamstring injuries this year, had a score of 4-10 1Ú2 in the high jump, and Pyeatt scored the highest shot put with a throw of 40-9 3Ú4 feet.

Senior Jawea Harder feels the team is doing very well in terms of accomplishing its goals, especially considering the number of injuries the Falcons have struggled with. She says the team will definitely be ready for the upcoming nationals, as she and the rest of the team demonstrated on Saturday.

At the Spike Arlt Invitational in Ellensburg, SPU took six victories in spite of the absence of the heptathletes and two other key players. In addition to the four women, senior Rachel Ross and sophomore Ally Studer weren’t at the meet, as they took the week off.

"Mentally, it’s pretty exhausting to compete week after week, and they’ve been pretty much going every single week since about Jan. 10," Hoyt said of the two women. "We gave them a little break on their competitive minds and put them at ease for a weekend, then they can go hard for University of Oregon" and the upcoming championships.

Hoyt also offered Castle a break, but he didn’t want to take it.

"He’s on fire, and he had another very excellent race with the 800 meters," Hoyt said. "[He] turned it up a notch there and got a lifetime best."

Castle won the men’s 800 with a personal record (PR) of 1:53:35. Hoyt is hoping the added competition at the Oregon Invitational on April 27 will be just what Castle needs to break 3:50 in the mile run.

Junior middle distance runner Sarah Kraybill won the 800 with her college PR of 2:13:86, an NCAA provisional qualifying mark. Kraybill’s win makes her the 11th member of the team to qualify for the Division II championships in May.

Hoyt noted that Kraybill "seems to be peaking nicely, each week getting better and better and gaining confidence." Kraybill beat a very tough opponent on Saturday.

"I think confidence will do a lot for her in the 800 race," Hoyt said.

Senior Dionna Anderson kept her winning streak intact with a victory in shot put for the fourth meet in a row. Anderson was also the GNAC co-athlete of the week in women’s track and field last week.

Other wins came from the men’s 4 x 400 relay of Castle, senior Neal Fryett, sophomore Paul Mach and freshman Micah Kellcy, as they finished in 3:24.21. The women’s relay of Harder, Kraybill, and freshmen Josie Lavin and Amanda McClary also won with a time just over four minutes.

Noteworthy times also came from freshman Tim LeCount and Fryett as they finished second and third in the 800 and 1,500 respectively. LeCount took second with an eight-second PR of 3:56.8, while Fryett won third with a season-best of 1:55.62.

"It was a really good team effort," LeCount said. "People had some really good times, and I think people are getting really psyched as far as the team goes for nationals."

The Falcons’ next meet is at the Oregon Invitational, but since the standards for this meet are very high, the field is not yet set. Hoyt said Castle will most likely run in the 1,500, Mach in the 400 hurdles, Fryett in the 800 and LeCount in the 800 or 1,500 for the men. The women’s field will probably include Ross in 800 and 1,500, Studer in the pole vault, Anderson in shot put, Kraybill in the 800 and possibly others.

With nationals approaching, Hoyt now wants to work on fine-tuning the performances of some of his runners. "Paul Mach just needs to smooth out his first few hurdles. He’s probably got the best finish in the 400 hurdles that I’ve seen in the Northwest, but he’s lacking his start. So hopefully if he gets the rhythm through the first five, he’ll be good to go," Hoyt said.

Ross is doing well in Hoyt’s eyes as well. She has "been winning all season long, so it will be interesting to see how she handles a tougher competition at University of Oregon than maybe we’ve had this season for her."

Overall Hoyt is satisfied with the progress the athletes are making and the performances they’ve turned in. "I guess we’ve got a lot to be thankful for."

After the Oregon Invitational, the GNAC Championships are in Bellingham on May 4, and the team will then compete in the Ken Foreman Invitational in Seattle on May 11.

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Title: Falcons finish with 6 victories | Author: Michelle Steen | Section: Sports | Published Date: 2002-04-24 | Internal ID: 2647