Luke Siegle – Staff Writer
The Gustavus Men’s and Women’s track teams had a busy past week of competitions as they hosted the Gustie Twilight, had the Drake Relays, and also hosted a Drake Alternative meet. It was an outstanding week for the Gusties as they performed both individually and collectively as a team.
Sophomore Birgen Nelson led the way as she snatched two stadium records and also helped lead the women’s sprint medley team to a championship victory at the Drake Relays. “This week was super surreal for me. I have this big long checklist of goals that I am trying to get through in my time at Gustavus and all in one week I got three of those goals which was just a cherry on top of everything,” Nelson said.
Senior Elizabeth Donnelly, also on the medley relay, ran her fastest 800 M time to anchor the win. On the men’s side, Senior Wyatt Quiring won the 200 M dash with a time of 21.92. Junior Dominic Flentje also had success as he helped the Men’s 4*100 relay team to a fourth-place finish in the Drake Alternative meet.
The Gusties kicked off the week as they hosted three teams at the Gustie Twilight meet this past Wednesday. To get the team going, Nelson won the 400 Meter hurdles while setting a stadium record of 1:01.93. Sophomore Ally Rakow won the 100 Meter Dash with a final time of 13.62. That was followed by First-year Kailyn Walukas, winning the 800 Meter run after securing a time of 2:31.53. Sophomore Madi Kes won the Long Jump after recording a jump of 5.17 M in the final. Junior Annika Poe placed second in both the Women’s Shot Put and Discus Throw with a throw of 13.87 M in the Shot Put and 40.78 in the Discus.
For the men, Wyatt Quiring got off to a good start in the 100 Meter Dash with a time of 11.09 which was good for a 3rd finish. He then won the 200 Meter Dash to continue his success. Other notable times in the short sprints were by Junior Seth Zeitchich who finished 6th in the 100 Meter, First-year Nathan Le who got 7th, and Sophomore Matthew Skelly who finished 8th. Moving to long-distance, Junior Henry Hinchcliffe won the Men’s 1500 Meter run with a final time of 4:10.75.
Next up was the Drake Relays where the Gusties could not have performed any better. Donnelly led off for the Gusties as she competed in the 800 Meter Run on Thursday and finished 7th with a time of 2:10.68 which nearly set a new personal record for her. Placing seventh was especially impressive as five of the six runners who finished in front of her were from high-level D1 programs.
“It felt like a good race, it was exciting to be up there with all the D1 and D2 girls and knowing that I could compete with them,” Donnelly said. On Friday, things got even better for Donnelly and her teammates as they won the Women’s Sprint Medley with a time of 3:59.32 to narrowly beat some of the best teams from around the country. Apart of the medley team were first years Kate Carlson and McKenna Huetten who ran the 200 Meter legs, followed by Nelson who ran the 400 Meter, and Donnelly who finished off the victory with a PR time in her 800 Meter leg.
“It was super exciting, I felt like everyone else on my relay just set me up perfectly to chase down Augustana and run a great race. I ran my best 800 time ever in my relay split, a 2.09 which was fun, and then finding out we won was an unreal moment,” said Donnelly. For Nelson things did not end there, as she still had the 100 Meter Hurdles to run. In that event, she placed 11th with a time of 14.16, which like Donnelly, was exceptional given the field was mainly D1 runners. “I ran against 32 girls, most of them D1, one girl got second in indoor D1 nationals so that was the sort of caliber of athlete I was up against, so to take 11th and being the top non-D1 finisher and really holding my own against the D1 girls was super awesome,” Nelson said.
For the men, First-years Tyler Smith, Blake Fuller, Marcus Rupnow, and Senior Dylan Gast placed 15th in the 4*800 relay with a time of 7:58.62. Then, Zeitchick, Quiring, Gast, and Smith competed in the Men’s Sprint Medley and closed out Friday with a 14th place finish and a time of 3:32.52. On Saturday, the last day of the Drake relays, Senior Jack Degonda, Fuller, Rupnow, and Junior Tucker Wallin closed with a 14th place finish in the Men’s Distance Medley Relay and a time of 10:38.52.
Back in Saint Peter, the Gusties were once again hosting, this time in the Drake Alternative Meet. Nelson continued her outstanding week by setting a stadium record of 14.12 in the 100 Meter Hurdles. Additionally, the Men’s 4*100 relay team featuring Sophomore Grant Baker, Junior Dominic Flentje, First-year Micheal Broad, and Senior Jack Wiessenberger finished 4th securing a time of 46.67.
“That’s one of my favorite relays because I was with a bunch of my friends and it was really just an enjoyable moment to run it with three of my friends. We didn’t even really worry about the time, even though we still did really good. Really happy with the results,” Flentje said.
All in all, it wrapped up an amazing week for the team as they battled through multiple meets and were able to secure records along the way. Additionally, many Gusties have secured their spots in the conference meet which takes place in just over a week. “A lot of people have their conference time secured so what they’re trying to do is just focus on staying in shape and obviously not getting injured right before conference,” Flentje said.
“It’s just exciting to go into conference with such strong talent across event groups. It’ll be fun to see what people can do,” Donnelly said. With the team morale at an all-time high, their mindset is to win. “Hungry, that’s how I would describe people. We have a ton of momentum,” Nelson said. The team will look to fulfill that hunger in the coming weeks.