En route to indoor track nationals

Women’s dmr team in NCAA DII Indoor Championships

Courtesy of Loren Orr
First-year Brooke Benner goes 5-5 1/4 in the high jump of the pentathlon at the GNAC Indoor Championships; Benner placed second overall with 3,461 points.

Battling for spots in the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships in Birmingham, Alabama, the Falcons competed at the Seattle Pacific Final Qualifier Track and Field Meet at the University of Washington’s Dempsey Field this past Saturday, Feb. 25.

To kick things off, junior Mary Charleson set a new PR in the mile. She completed the race in 4:53.64 — three seconds faster than her previous record.

First-year Kate Lilly and Macdonald also came up big for the Falcons in the mile. Both broke the five-minute mark for the first time, beating the NCAA provisional qualifying standard. Lilly finished the race in 4:56.96, while Macdonald finished close behind with a time of 4:58.28.

Chris Yang | The Falcon
Junior Mary Charleson and senior Sarah Macdonald run the mile race at UW’s Dempsey Field.

On Saturday evening, Charleson ranked 25th nationally among NCAA Division II runners. Only the top 18 runners are guaranteed a trip to nationals. With that being said, it is common for other runners to drop out of distance races to focus on other events.

This came into fruition for Charleson, who as of yesterday, snagged the 17th qualifier spot, and now will be competing in Alabama this weekend.

Official word came in yesterday afternoon that Charleson will also be running in the 4000-meter distance medley relay with teammates senior Sarah Macdonald, first-year Lani Taylor and junior Chynna Phan. This dmr team sits at 12th place with the 11:42.22 time they recorded a few weeks ago at the UW Invitational, just making the 13 team cut-off by the NCAA.

Finishing in the top spot in the long jump this past weekend’s meet was senior Kyra Brannan, landing at 18-5.

Also claiming a top spot was sophomore Geneva Lenhert in the high jump, who cleared 5-5.

The 4×400 relay consisting of Brannan, Taylor, first-year Brooke Benner and senior Cheryl Hong also posed a PR at 3:48.19 this past Saturday. The Falcons are ranked 15th in this event, while only the top 12 are assured a spot.

Taylor says she enjoys the aspect of team when it comes to the relay.

“At the end of the day, my teammates are always proud of me,” she said. “There is this ‘if you succeed then I succeed’ feel which makes running a 400 easier.”

On the men’s side, sophomore Jesse Phan took third place in the 400-meter dash with a PR of 50.35.

“Overall, I think that it was a good meet for the guys,” Phan said. “None of the guys were necessarily going into this meet trying to qualify for nationals, but we were all trying to get some PRs, which a few of us did. A lot of us did events that we don’t necessarily specialize in, which was really fun. Even though not everyone got a PR, I think that most of us felt pretty satisfied with our races.”

As the men’s team looks forward to outdoor season, their goals and aspirations seem to be consistent.

“I would say that our main focus is to get as many of our guys to conference as possible and get as many of those guys to score as we can,” Phan said.

“To do that, we just have to keep doing what we always do, which is to give our best effort in every race we have and get some big PRs. All of our guys are working really hard, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some really cool things from the guy’s team this year.”

Also finishing strong for the Falcons was senior Justin Ramsey.

Ramsey came in fourth place in the 200-meter dash, clocking in at 23.51.

“I just want to say how excited I am for this coming outdoor season,” Phan said. “This team, both [men and women], is just a really awesome group of people, and I’m extremely happy to be sharing this journey with them.”

The Falcons will participate in the Ed Boitano/Puget Sound Invitational this coming Saturday, March 4. The meet takes place in Tacoma and will start at 11 a.m.

This will be the final meet for the Falcons prior to the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships, where the team of four women, Charleson, Macdonald, Taylor and Phan, will compete.

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