For mostly everyone on the Seattle Pacific track and field team, the GNAC Championship meet last weekend on April 9 and 10 in Monmouth, Ore., marked the end of a season. There was one last chance to run their hearts out, leave everything on the track, and make a mark for both themselves and the team.
The women’s team finished fourth place overall with a total of 121 points, only 16 points shy of first place Alaska Anchorage, and included four first-place finishes and impressive performances from a pair of seniors.
“It was an unusual conference meet [with] four teams all within  points,” head coach Karl Lerum said. “It’s not what we set out to accomplish. We put [ourselves] in a position to win and didn’t break until the end.”
Everyone on the team pulled their weight and picked up valuable points with many top 10 finishes, such as sophomore Lynelle Decker finishing fifth in the 800-meter run and eighth in the 1,500. Sophomore Madi Webster and freshman Michaella Kahns finished tied for third place on the pole vault with a height of 10-1/2.
Junior Turner Wiley highlighted the men’s team in the 5,000 with a time of 14 minutes, 59.18 seconds, which was good enough for seventh place. All this came during a weekend spell of poor weather — rain, and lots of it.
“It was the most horrible weather to [run] the rack in,” freshman Kyra Brannan said. “Everyone tried their hardest and gave it their all.”
For some, they just wanted to have a good time and get the most out of it.
“I just wanted to have fun mostly,” senior Kishia Mitchell said. “Just have fun, [it was] my last meet ever.”
And for seniors like Mitchell, the fact that it was their last meet ever made them really want to go out with a bang. They did just that. The entire GNAC meet was highlighted by the performance of Mitchell and fellow senior McKayla Fricker, who has run all over the record books in her time at SPU.
It was Fricker who took first place in the 800 and 1,500. This was Fricker’s third consecutive championship in the 800. She only missed the championship her freshman year because of injuries.
“In each race, I got to the last 200 or 300 and was honestly running purely from the heart,” said Fricker, who will run the 800 in the Division II National Championships from May 22–24. “[I was] thinking, ‘This is my senior year, and this is all I got. I want to leave it all on the track.’”
Even more impressive than her 800 first place finish was her 1,500 first place finish where Fricker trailed heading into the last lap before taking over first and finishing at a personal best of 4:28.19.
“It was really, really exciting,” Fricker said. “Just looking back and realizing it’s just surreal, honestly it is. You can’t believe that it just happened.”
It was a monumental day for a monumental athlete, who capped off a fantastic career at this meet by claiming the last of her 10 GNAC titles (indoor and outdoor).
And if you think 10 titles are impressive — try 12. That’s exactly the number of titles Mitchell has captured over her career at SPU. Mitchell took the title in the 400, a race that she hasn’t run all too often. She took the lead on the home stretch and didn’t look back.
“Before the race I told myself I was going to win,” Mitchell said. “I wanted to win this one and get points for the team.”
All in all, with the efforts from the seniors and the entire team, it was a good outing down in Oregon, taking a satisfactory team standing with some above-satisfactory performances from the seniors.
“I am literally so proud of every single teammate who went out there and competed,” Fricker said. “I’m proud of the entire team.”
Editor’s note: On Tuesday, it was announced the women’s 4×400 qualified for the national championship meet. The relay team includes Mitchell, Fricker, junior Tasia Baldwin and junior Jasmine Johnson. Sophomore Lynelle Decker also qualified in the 800.