Runners set quick marks

These freshmen are fast.

Latasha Essien, NyEma Sims, Anna Walters, and Jessica Pixler joined forces and turned heads at the University of Washington Indoor Invitational Saturday.

"Latasha, NyEma, Anna, and Jessica Hinton are putting SPU sprinters back on the map," said head coach Karl Lerum after the meet.

Coming off a school record performance in the 60-meter dash two weeks ago, Sims backed it up by posting a heat-winning time of 7.69, just off her school record of 7.63.

She also won her heat of the 200-meter dash at 25.39, a time good enough for second on the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and SPU all-time lists.

Not to be outdone, Essien also won her heat of the 200 meters at 26.15, and qualified for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II indoor meet with her time of 7.75 in the 60-meter dash.

Pixler, already an automatic qualifier for the national meet in the women’s mile, took on the best of the best in the women’s 800-meter run.

Running in the main heat, she finished near the back of the pack in ninth place, but her time of 2:14.47 is an NCAA Division II provisional mark.

Walters, a freshman from Spokane, joined Essien and Sims as a winner of a heat, in the 400-meter dash, posting a sub-minute time of 59.85.

Junior Karin Rhode, one of only two upper-class women to participate Saturday, placed second in her section of the women’s mile at 5:03.77.

The other upper-class runner, 2006 All-American Kelsey Cooley, took 11th place in the women’s indoor pentathlon, accumulating 3,303 points in the five-event competition comprising the 60-meter dash, high jump, long jump, shot put, and the 800-meter run.

The competition last weekend was stiff as Division I schools like Stanford, Oregon, Baylor, and Washington loomed large. Still, the SPU athletes were not intimidated, but rather viewed it as an opportunity to shine, said Lerum.

"There were some pretty steep entry requirements. It was a big meet, but our athletes are outstanding competitors, and they deserved to be there," Lerum said.

The entire SPU track and field team will be back in action Feb. 11 at the University of Washington Open.

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Title: Runners set quick marks | Author: Chris Schumacher | Section: Sports | Published Date: 2007-01-31 | Internal ID: 5392