Brady Boie – Staff Writer
The Gustavus Women’s Track and Field team had a phenomenal performance this last weekend. The Golden Gusties hosted five other teams (Martin Luther, UW-Stout, Carleton, UW-River Falls, and Crown College) at home. Despite dealing with cold, windy conditions, the Gusties were able to excel and ended up winning seven different events at the Drake Alternative Invite.
“The girls team performed really well this weekend, especially given the weather and temperature. It’s not easy to compete when it is so cold out, but we still were able to have seven girls take first place in their events and many others placed in the top three (for their events)”, Sophomore Madi Kes said.
Kes was one of the Gustie event-winners. Kes placed first in the triple jump with a distance of 11.10 meters. She also placed second in the long jump with a distance of 4.87 meters.
“eing able to jump with all of my friends was the highlight of my weekend. We always get each other hyped up to compete and it is always so much fun to be part of such an enjoyable team,” Kes said.
This positive energy was everywhere for the Gusties who competed in the field events. Sophomore Annika Poe took first place for shot put with a heave of 12.85 meters. Fellow Sophomore Alexys Guidry won the discus with a throw of 39.04 meters. Finally, Junior Rachel Erickson secured first place in the javelin with a toss of 31.05 meters.
“Like at most meets, the atmosphere was super supportive. Even though we weren’t allowed to have spectators, it still always felt like there were people watching you and cheering you on… It’s always a positive and enjoyable atmosphere because you can tell that everyone really wants you to succeed and do your best,” Kes said.
Not to be outdone, the Gustie runners tore it up. Teammates Junior Mackinzee Miest, Sophomore Lily Engebreston, and Junior Iliana Ramon swept the podium with a 1-2-3 finish in the 5000 meter run. Engebreston, who finished only three seconds behind Miest, was proud to run stride-for-stride with Miest.
“The 5000 meter race with [Miest] was the highlight of the weekend for me. We worked on a new race strategy, and [Miest] ended up winning first overall with a time of 18:39. We wanted to represent Gustavus well at the last home meet of our season, and we brought our A game,” Egebreston said.
Senior Kourtney Kluseth brought her A game to the track on Saturday. She ran the 3000 meter steeplechase, an 7.5 lap event that consists of five barriers per lap, 4 of which are dry and 1 of which is wet. Kluseth won the event with a time of 12:15 and was pleased with her own performance and the resilience of her teammates.
“I performed really well. I was able to run the race in a way that was comfortable and allowed me to execute my barriers well… Everyone realizes how fortunate we are to be able to compete safely, and we bring our best to the table when we are given these opportunities. Gusties are very supportive of each other and this team is no exception. We all cheer each other on and this supportive environment is what allows us to come together as a team,” Kluseth said.
Four Gustie women came together and put on a winning performance in a relay event. First-year Danielle Miller, Senior Karley DeKnikker, Senior DeAnna Giles, and Junior Emilia Helms-Leslie combined for a 4×100 relay time of 53.70 seconds.
“We had a lot of fun at our last home meet of the season… We were able to perform in the best possible way and had an amazing relay team that ended up winning the event,” Miller said.
Miller has dealt with the struggles of being an athlete in the midst of a pandemic. She became a close contact with a family member who tested positive for COVID-19 in the middle of the season and had to miss over two weeks of training.
“It was really hard for me because I could not exercise during this time. It was really hard for me to come back into practice and not being able to do my best. After many weeks of hard work, I am now happy to say that I am finally back on track,” Miller said.
This resilient mindset is exactly what the Gusties need to have as they head into their final weeks of their season. They visit MSU Mankato on May 1 and will compete in the MIAC conference championships on May 14 and 15.
“Our team goal is to place in the top three and to qualify as many people as we can for each event,” Kluseth said.
With all of these athletes peaking at the right time, it seems like this goal is very attainable for the Golden Gustie track team that continues to shine when given the opportunity to do so.