Autumn Zierman – Staff Writer
Sprinting and leaping into success this weekend, the Gustavus Track and Field (both Men’s and Women’s) teams returned to the fields for their first outdoor meet since 2019.
The meet included Crown, Martin Luther, St. Scholastica, Saint Mary’s, and Concordia-St. Paul and was hosted on the Gustavus fields.
The meet kicked off around noon on Saturday afternoon and by the end of the day the Women’s team walked away having won 13 separate events.
“It was so great hosting my first meet as a member of the Gustavus track and field family. We have the best officials, coaching staff, grounds crew, timing company, event staff, and team to put on a first-class experience. It was really special to be able to give our team this moment and they definitely had a lot of fun today,” Head Coach Aaron Lund said.
Sophomore Birgen Nelson had a strong showing, winning three events. Nelson crossed the line first in the 200-meter in 25.60, the 100-hurdles in 14.35, and the 4×100 relay with Paige Patterson, Madi Kes, and Olivia Thomley in 50.51.
“I feel really lucky and privileged to get to compete right now. I am incredibly grateful for the track coaches and athletic trainers who are working so hard behind the scenes to keep us and everyone else safe and to give us opportunities to practice and compete,” Nelson said.
Other notable accomplishments in the women’s team on the field include Junior Lily Engebretson who won the 800-meter, Junior Elizabeth Donnelly who placed first in the 1500-meter. First-year Claire Schoenfield crossed first in the 3000-meter, Senior Karley DeKnikker won the 400-hurdles and Senior Kourtney Kulseth took home victory in the 3000-meter steeplechase. Finally, the 4×400 relay team won for Gustavus.
“It feels really good to compete again. Gustavus and our coaches have done such a great job making sure that we can have a successful and safe season. The team is feeling good and everyone has been working so hard this season. We have some big goals for the end of the season at conference and I have no doubt that everyone will compete their hearts out. Everyone has been making the most of every moment because we now know how quickly things can be taken away. We continue to stay safe on and off the track and the field,” Kulseth, who won the 3,000-meter steeplechase, said.
In the field events, Junior Doris-Klein Mor won the pole vault with a clearance of 11-5.75. First-year Madi Kes cleared 38-7.5 to win the triple jump and break her own school record. Sophomore Annika Poe won the shot put with a distance of 43-4.5. In the discus, Sophomore Alexys Guidry took first with a throw of 124-1.
The men’s track and field team also saw success this last Saturday at the invitational. Senior Wyatt Quiring gave the Gusties a win in the 400-meter. Senior Taylor Rooney ran the 110-hurdles unopposed and clocked a time of 14.27. First-year Grant Baker also ran the 400-hurdles uncontested and posted a time of 1:04.02. Sophomore Seth Zeitchick had a strong performance in the 200-meter with a second-place win. Sophomores Jack Marble and Tucker Wallin placed second and third, respectively, in the 800-meter. Senior Nathan Scruggs took second in the 3000-meter steeplechase.
In the field events, Rooney won the high jump with a height of 6-6.75. Junior Xander DuMoulin won the triple jump with a distance of 42-11.5 and placed second in the long jump with a mark of 21-0.5. Junior Steven Orzolek launched the shot put 51-6.5 to win the event and took second in the hammer throw at 162-5. Finally, First-year Ben Urbaniak cleared 12-7.5 in the pole vault to take second.
“All of our hard work from this fall and through our indoor season has really shown over the past couple of weeks, with people surprising themselves with how in shape they are. I was extremely happy to get a big PR (personal record) this past weekend, and I know that many others have felt that success at some time or another this year,” Senior Nathan Scruggs said.
“Altogether, it was fun to see our team give their best effort at a home competition, be supportive of teammates, and stay positive and focused throughout a difficult season,” Coach Lund said.
The track and field Gusties will have plenty more opportunity to hit the fields. This Saturday they will compete as a split squad at Carleton and UW-La Crosse with all of Gustavus cheering them on as they go. Still to come this season will be the MIAC outdoor championship on May 14-15, though the location is yet to be decided.