Entering as the underdogs in the two-day GNAC Indoor Championships in Nampa, Idaho, this past weekend, the Seattle Pacific women’s track and field team came out victorious, securing the conference title.
To start off the conference, the Falcon women swept the pentathlon, earning the top three spots at the finish. To add on, they surpassed the NCAA Division II provisional qualifying standard score of 3,285, placing all three in the national top 25.
First-year Scout Cai finished in first place with 3,499 points. Coming in a close second, with 3,461 points was fellow first-year Brooke Benner. Taking third with 3,411 points was sophomore Geneva Lehnert.
Benner claimed second place in the triple jump Saturday, soaring to a height of 38-4 3/4.
Lehnert also finished second in the high jump on Saturday, hitting 5-5 1/4 on her third attempt.
“Our women’s team is something else,” junior Peyton Harris said. “We had outstanding efforts all around the team and, in the end, every point mattered. It was a truly amazing result.”
Senior Kyra Brannan made her mark as she leapt to first in the long jump on Friday, breaking 19 feet, landing at 19’0 1/2‘’ . She also set a new PR of 24.66 in the 200-meter dash, claiming third in the preliminaries. She ultimately took fourth with a time of 24.51 in the finals.
The Falcon women’s DMR team, consisting of senior Sarah MacDonald, sophomore Emma Lambert, junior Chynna Phan and senior Hannah Calvert, came in third with a time of 12:23.31
Senior Michaella Kahns took third in the pole vault, clearing 12-0 1/2. Cai came in fourth clearing the same height, and Lambert took fifth with a clearance of 10-10 3/4.
Senior Mary Charleson also claimed a third place spot, finishing the mile at 5:07.11.
“Everyone stepped up and performed their best in the given circumstances,” junior Becca Houk said. “Our team has grit, and we know how to get the job done. It’s cool to be part of a team with so much success.”
To top it off, the Falcons were honored with the GNAC Team of the Week Award.
“It is always an honor to win GNAC Team of the Week,” Harris said. “This conference has grown unbelievable since I have been at SPU. I am always astounded by the quality of athletes in our conference in comparison to the rest of the nation.”
It came down to the wire, as the last race of the meet, the women’s 4×400, would determine the winner. Coming in with a time of 3:48.80, Brannan, first-year Lani Taylor, senior Cheryl Hong and Houk snagged third place.
And, with this, the team secured their 11th Indoor Championship win, curbing Simon Fraser out by just three and a half points. The Falcons finished with a score of 124 to SFU Clan’s 120 1/2.
“This being our 11th team championship for the women really highlights the culture of the program,” Harris said. “We come to practice every day with a winning mentality. Our coaches work around the clock to give us the best opportunity to succeed and the athletes thank them by performing well. In the end, we race for each other because we care about each and every one of our teammates.”
And the care for each teammate is evident, as the men had nothing but congratulations to give.
“The women deserve all the praise in the world, and more,” senior Justin Ramsey said. “They are true competitors. But beyond that, they perform their sport with heart, grit and a true, simple passion. Not only are they impressive, they are fun to watch.”
Although the men didn’t fare as well as the women, placing 10th in the conference, they did set a couple PRs, making it a successful meet.
“The men’s team was never expecting to win a team title, but that didn’t discourage the guys on the team,” Harris said. “We put forth our best effort and ultimately outscored our projected point total for the meet, so we can call it a success in the end.”
Harris himself took the third place spot in the men’s 60 meter hurdles on Saturday with a time of 8.42 seconds.
“I am excited to continue to develop my technique and explosiveness,” Harris said. “I think I have the potential to do great things this year, and I’m ready to get back to work.”
The men: first-year Lazarus Scarbrough, sophomore Jesse Phan, senior David McLeod and Ramsey were able to score fifth place in the 4×400, with a time of 3:24.29.
“I felt great about this weekend,” Ramsey said. “Personally, I ran a new indoor PR in the 400, and our men competed well both individually and in our relays.”
Phan, Ramsey, junior Clark Sterling and junior Ben Halladay came in eighth place in the DMR, finishing with a time of 10:39.08.
“The goal is usually to win conference, but I think this time was a lot more special and meaningful to us,” junior Chynna Phan said. “Especially because as a team we’ve been going through some stuff, and it was just really special and cool to see. Even if some people didn’t perform exceptionally, others did. And we got to be there to support them.”
Although indoor season is winding down, SPU has a few more meets before the reach the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships. Up next for the Falcons is the SPU Final Qualifier this Saturday, Feb. 25, which takes place at the UW Dempsey Indoor Field. Times are yet to be announced.
“Coming off a championship win is always a great place from which to launch into the next couple months of competing,” Ramsey said. “Our athletes will be entering into another intense phase of training as we get ready for the heart of our competitive season.”
“Personally, I am extremely excited to race and compete in my last collegiate season,” he added. “It’s bitter-sweet, bitter that a large part of my life is coming to a close, and sweet that I am able to finish this journey in success and by the teammates and coaches that have made my experiences here some of the best in my life.”