Three Falcons make nationals
Sophomore, two seniors represent SPU
By BRANDON BERGFALK, Sports Writer
Published: March 7, 2012
The Division II track and field National Championships bring the best athletes together from around the country. Sophomore McKayla Fricker and seniors Ali Worthen and Terra Schumacher will represent Seattle Pacific at nationals in Mankato, Minn. on March 16 to 18.
“It’s really exciting,” Fricker said of her selection to compete in the national meet. “It feels like an honor to be able to go as an underclassman and represent [SPU].”
Worthen, who was recently named the West Region female track Athlete of the Year, is ranked seventh in the pentathlon entering the national competition.
“[I found out] at the end of last week when they closed off the list,” she said. “At that point, [the ranking] was set in stone.”
Schumacher, on the other hand, qualified for nationals in the pole vault in her final meet of the indoor season.
“I was really kind of panicky that I wouldn’t clear the next bar.” Schumacher said. “I had been doing it in practice, so I was really excited to finally make it.”
As seniors, this will be the first and last National Championship meet for Worthen and Schumacher. Both, however, have previously competed at outdoor nationals.
“The first time I went to nationals, I was a little shell-shocked,” Worthen said. “[There was] lots going on, lots of amazing athletes. It’s very overwhelming and easy to get intimidated. I’ll be better prepared this time.”
“It’s an icebreaker kind of thing,” Schumacher said. “I’m not as nervous because it’s something I’ve done before. I know what to expect. I’ll have seen some familiar faces.”
Fricker is hoping nationals this year will prepare her for years to come.
“I am really happy that I’m getting this experience as a sophomore, so as a junior and senior, I’ll have experience,” she said.
Worthen said her strategy and preparation at nationals will not be different than it has been. Fricker agreed.
“Mentally, I try not to think of [nationals] differently,” Fricker said. “[It’s] just a normal race on a Saturday. I want to keep in my mind that I’m there, I’m around their times and I’m supposed to be there. I’m not some young person who isn’t supposed to be there. I can run fast.”
Schumacher said she plans to work with bigger poles during her preparation for the event.
The highest mark in the pole vault among Division II competitors is over 7 inches greater than Schumacher’s personal record. The bigger pole will allow her to reach greater heights and compete with athletes who have vaulted to those heights already this season.
Although they’ve made it to nationals, the trio isn’t satisfied yet.
“I’m always going to compete for first place, but realistically, I want to get 4,000 points,” Worthen said.
Her current personal record is 3,729 points, set on Jan. 27 earlier this season. Lindsay Lettow of Central Missouri has the first-ranked score in Division II of 4,019 points.
Schumacher is also hoping to place at nationals.
“My goal is to get top three,” Schumacher said. “I know that I can do it.”
She said if she can commit to the larger pole, 12 feet, 6 inches or even 13 feet is within reach.
Fricker expects the 800 to be a very close race.
“Everyone’s times are really close. It’s going to be a really close race, and mainly, the goal is to compete,” Fricker said. “I’m not focusing on the time to get. I am focusing on staying in the pack and seeing who I can pass and keeping people from passing me.”
Having been at nationals for outdoor track and field last year, Worthen reflected positively on her experience.
“[Nationals] has such an awesome vibe,” she said. “It’s really intense and extremely competitive, but there is a lot of excitement.”