Eamonn McCullough – Staff Writer
Gustavus Track & Field lays down dominant performance at SJU/CSB
Gustavus Track & Field has been turning the past semester’s season of hard training into pure gold throughout their first meets of the year. This weekend’s competition against Saint John’s University, Augsburg, and the College of St. Benedict provided yet another opportunity for Gusties to shine and put up marks that lead at both the conference and national level.
Indoor track meets have looked a little different this season. This past weekend’s triangular meet was split into two sections to comply with COVID regulations, arranged in such a way that men competed in the morning and women competed in the afternoon.
“Good teammates and a few fans can turn any indoor facility into a crowded stadium for the athletes competing. Some schools don’t even allow people to watch their teammates events, so that the amount of people in the facility is minimal. Other than that, we wear masks until it is our turn to compete, and put them on afterwards, which is no biggy,” Senior Distance Runner Nathan Scruggs said.
Scruggs competed in the mile over the weekend, taking eighth.
The first two events of the men’s meet that morning, the 60m hurdles and 60m dash, provided a thrilling showcase of Gustie sprinters. Senior Taylor Rooney, who was last week’s MIAC track and USTFCCCA National athlete of the week, laid down a time of 8.00 in the hurdles to top his own facility record, following that performance closely with a 7.00 in the open 60m to take second. This time places Rooney first in both the MIAC and the nation for Division III, without even taking into account his current top mark of 7.87 set two weeks ago at Bethel. First-year Major Martin was a powerful asset to the Gusties as well, taking fourth in the 60m hurdles with a 9.70. Not to be outshined, the Gustie distance crew proved their mettle in the mile and 5000 following the short sprint events. Sophomore Henry Hinchcliffe led the mile pack, crossing first in 4:29.29, followed immediately by Junior Jack Degonda (4:33.38) and Sophomore Trevor LaVinge (4:34.60) to sweep the top three. Six other Gusties finished in the top 16 in that event. The Gustavus 5k runners rocked out some impressive times as well, with all six entered runners going under 16 minutes. Senior Andrew Stumbo led the charge, crossing the line second with a 15:06.97, good for second in the MIAC and 15th in the nation. The Gustie mid-distance runners and long sprinters opened their portion of the meet strongly as well, as the 400m sat squarely between the two distance events. Junior Wyatt Quiring and Sophomore Seth Zeitchick highlighted that event for the Gustie men, crossing first and third with respective times of 51.44 and 52.63.
Many Gustie men made a strong appearance off the track as well. Junior Steven Orzolek took first place in the shotput with a toss of 16.68m, good for second in the MIAC and third in the nation. First year Isaiah Subah also took home a win, flying 6.27m to win the long jump. The Gustie 4x200m relay crossed the line first as well, with the team of Quiring, Rooney, Zeitchick, and junior Xander DuMolin posting a MIAC-leading 1:30.82. The men’s 4x400m relay was also a high point as the team of sophomore Jack Marble, juniors Jack McCabe and Nick Olfert, and first year Korigan Dierks brought home another gold for the Gusties. Despite the slough of outstanding Gustavus performances, the Johnnies edged out the Gusties for first overall 134-126.
Being able to watch other event groups compete, as well as cheer on teammates, has led to a big mindset change now that intercollegiate competition has returned.
“The attitude at practice has changed to where we feel like a team again. Before we started having meets, it would just be all of the different event groups practicing separately, with little to no knowledge of what anyone else is doing. Now, we’ve been able to meet with and support each other much more often,” Scruggs said.
Later that day, the Gustie women threw down the gauntlet as well with an outstanding afternoon of performances, going on to win their portion of the meet with 149 points over St. Benedict’s 103 and Augsburg’s 28.
The women’s team portion of the meet started off much like the morning for the Gusties – with a slew of dominant performances. Sophomore Birgen Nelson and First-year Danielle Miller continued to prove Gustavus’ prowess at overcoming barriers, taking first and third in the 60m hurdles. Nelson’s time of 8.88 leads the MIAC and ranks second in the nation for Division III. The Gustie sprint squad didn’t let up over the course of the meet, with Sophomores Victoria Adebisi and Arianna Burmaster taking home first and third place in the 200m, Nelson and Senior Sara Moen going 1-2 in the 400 later in the meet, and the 4×200 team of Nelson, Adebisi, Burmaster and Senior Rachel Studer taking first.
Gustie distance had a very successful day on the women’s side as well, starting with Sophomore Julia Severson crossing first in the mile in 5:22.32 (a time currently first in the MIAC). She was followed by Senior Elizabeth Whitcomb, who led the third through eighth Gustie sweep of the rest of the field in that event. Severson would go on to take second in the 800 as well as the runner-up to her teammate, Junior Elizabeth Donnely, who took first in 2:22.54. In the longer events, Senior Kourtney Kulseth took first in the 3000 and Junior Kinzee Miest crossed second in the 5k.
The Gusties dominated in field events as well, with Sophomore Annika Poe winning the shotput, Junior Doris-Klein Mor flying high above the competition to take first in the pole vault, and First-year Madi Kes and Senior Paige Patterson going 1-2 in the long jump. Kes also led the Gustie 1-4 sweep of the triple jump. The Gusties have a weekend off coming up, but will be back in action against the University of St. Thomas on February 26th.