One problem as a Division-II track and field team is that you don’t really have a “home field advantage.” In fact, you don’t really have a “home field” at all.
Over the course of the season, the closest the Seattle Pacific University track and field team has gotten to home is the Husky Track at the University of Washington.
This past weekend was no exception, as the Falcons were spread out over the state of California for three different meets — Mt. SAC relays in Walnut on April 18, the Bryan Clay Invitational in Azusa, also on the 18th, and the Beach Invitational in Norwalk on the 19th.
For the coaches involved, all the traveling can be a pretty stressful affair.
“It was a big trip [with] a lot of logistical challenges,” head coach Karl Lerum said. “There’s a good deal of waiting and organizing your eating. Overall our student-athletes [performed] well.”
Some of the athletes, however, enjoy the traveling, and the competition it brings with it.
“It’s fun and great opportunity for college students to travel and do what they love,” senior Kishia Mitchell said.
And for most, this great opportunity turned into a pretty successful weekend.
Mt. SAC Relays
The Falcons’ performance here at the Hilmer Lodge Stadium was highlighted once again by senior McKayla Fricker, who earned GNAC Athlete of the Week for her record-breaking time of 2 minutes, 6.85 seconds in the 800, good enough for fifth all-time in the GNAC record-books, and smashed her previous record of 2 minutes and 8 seconds.
What made this even more impressive was the pressure that Fricker was racing on the same track with two others who were ranked above her in the GNAC standings for that event. In this race, Fricker was the fastest of all of them.
Bryan Clay Invitational
Two Falcons showed up at this meet and were ready to break their personal records — sophomore Anna Patti and junior Turner Wiley.
Patti finished the 5000 meter race at a time of 17 minutes, 19.10 seconds, which beat her personal best by an entire 10 seconds, which was previously at 17 minutes, 29.90 seconds.
“I definitely did better than I thought I would,” Patti said. “It was the race you hope to have but don’t expect to have. Just to break your personal best anytime is a good race. Another ten [seconds] was really cool for me.”
Her time was just under the NCAA provisional time of 17 minutes, 19.90 seconds, and was good enough for seventh place. This was also her first time on the NCAA list.
“Every good workout fills your repertoire,” Patti said. “The weeks go on and we get more fit and [get] more experience every race.”
Wiley ran in a league of his own as he beat his own personal best in the 5000 meter race, in which he ran a 14 minute, 58.83 second race, which was almost a minute faster than his old time of 15:44.21.
Once again the talents of SPU were highlighted by performances by Fricker and Mitchell, who both set qualifying times during the Beach Invitational in Norwalk.
Fricker qualified in the 1,500 with a time of 4:32.25, and Mitchell stole the show in the 100 meter dash with a time of 12.35, a personal best.
Although her time in the 100 was great, her team’s time in the 4×100 relay, which placed fourth overall, but did not qualify for nationals, was not enough to satisfy Mitchell — and was really the only downside to an otherwise great weekend of racing.
“I was really disappointed,” Mitchell said.
“I wanted to do a lot better than I did. Our 4×100 relay team really wants to get to nationals and we barely missed it again. [Missing] little markers like that is really disappointing.”
Even though there was a little rain on the Falcons’ track parade, overall the weekend was wildly successful as multiple athletes broke new records and qualified for the GNAC championships.
“Overall the weekend went well,” Lerum said. “It was a big trip with lots of travel. It’s an adventure and they can enjoy the challenge.”
Next week the Falcons head to Bellingham for the Ralph Vernaccia Invitational on April 26 and over to Central Washington University and compete on April 28 and 29 for the GNAC Multi-Event Championships.