The Seattle University track and field team made two trips to the medal stand with First Team All-WAC performances and collected four more Second Team All-WAC awards as the 2013 Western Athletic Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships concluded Saturday at Maverick Stadium.
“Today was another solid day to back up the performances from yesterday. The word ‘proud’ tends to get overused and loses its meaning, but I am truly proud of the tenacity, focus, and drive the team brought to this meet. The competition level is higher all around and the team rose to the occasion. The improvements I saw from the indoor season moving into the outdoor season were great. There is a great deal of learning that goes on from these experiences that will continue to help us improve our mentality, tactics, and overall determination. This is crucial in our growth continuation,” Seattle U head track and field coach Trisha Steidl said.
Seattle U’s day on the track began with the men’s 4x100 meter relay, where Zachary Schlachter (Tigard, Ore.), Zach Stanfield (Adna, Wash.), Shaddye Melu (Auburn, Wash.), and Austin Thummel-Gravitt (Puyallup, Wash.) combined to finish fourth in 41.52 seconds, just 1/100th of a second off the school record.
Sophie Curatilo (Honolulu, Hawaii) took back the school record in the women’s 1500 meter run, finishing sixth with a time of 4:33.21. Madison Davis (Camano Island, Wash.) was also faster than the standard she set in the preliminaries, picking up a point for the Redhawk women by finishing eighth in 4:34.61.
“Sophie finished her 1500 with the toughness she's known for to get sixth place and set a new school record, despite the windy conditions,” Steidl said. “She has come a long way this year as well as this season and this will allow her to continue to build in a significant way.”
In a close race in which the top six runners finished within 1.15 seconds of each other, Collin Overbay (Spokane, Wash.) held off all but one competitor, crossing the finish line second in the men’s 1500 meter run in 3:57.01. In the men’s 400 meter dash, Thummel-Gravitt finished in seventh place with a time of 48.71 seconds.
“Collin ran a smart race in the 1500. He positioned himself very well and stuck to the race tactics we had discussed. He knew what to expect from the field and used it to his advantage and made a strong move to the finish to get that second place spot,” said Steidl. “Austin has gained a lot of strength and confidence over the past year and has become a more consistent racer. That showed in his races this weekend. He raced hard and gained a lot from his experiences this weekend. This year he has definitely built a strong foundation for the future, and his future is bright.”
After winning the steeplechase the previous day, Hannah Mittelstaedt (Maple Valley, Wash.) finished fourth in the women’s 5000 meter run with a time of 17:36.32. Elena Smith (Seattle, Wash.) crossed the finish line in 21st place in 18:26.71, just ahead of Curatilo in 22nd place with a time of 18:28.58. Lauren Hammerle (Seattle, Wash.) finished in 26th place in 18:50.67, and Taylor de Laveaga (Gilbert, Ariz.) finished in 27th place in 19:00.53.
“Hannah ran another solid race in the 5000 today and showed how far her fitness and mentality have come since last year. To come back from her steeple win yesterday and put together not only a great race, but also a significantly outdoor personal best is a testament to the increased focus she's had this year along with figuring out a training and maintenance plan that was able to get her to the outdoor conference meet stronger than ever before. This year's races should put her in place to be able to qualify for regionals in the steeple next year as well,” Steidl said.
In the men’s 5000 meter run, Matthew McClement (Bellingham, Wash.) picked up his second top three finish in as many days, finishing third in 14:52.47, with Overbay right behind him in fourth place in 14:56.30. Baxter Arguinchona (Spokane, Wash.) finished in ninth place with a time of 15:20.99, in front of Jeff Baklund (Auburn, Wash.) in 10th place in 15:21.73, while Chris Davis posted a time of 16:43.76 to finish in 25th place.
“Matthew raced incredible back-to-back races. It was heartbreaking to watch him just get outkicked for second place in the 5000 today. It's impossible to walk away upset, though, as he truly ran with heart and guts. I couldn't have asked for more from him and while it's bittersweet, his two third place performances this weekend were fantastic races,” said Steidl.
Melu improved on his own school record in the high jump, clearing 2.06 meters (6’ 9”) to finish in fifth place in the event. He then anchored the 4x400 meter relay, joining Thummel-Gravitt, Schlachter, and Stanfield to set a new school record with a time of 3:13.59, good enough for fourth place. The Seattle U men ended the meet in seventh place with 48 points, with Texas State holding off Utah State by six points to win the conference title.
“Shaddye took advantage of the great weather and competition and put together a new personal best and school record today. He was focused on making the regional qualifying mark and got himself to the point of being able to attempt that in the meet today, but was unable to hit the mark,” said Steidl. “The men's 4x400 ran an incredibly gutsy, give-it-all-you've-got race that resulted in not only a solid placing in a conference that has very strong sprints, but also a huge school record! Represented by a person from each class, it was an awesome way to end the meet and for Stanfield to end his college career.”
The women’s 4x400 meter relay team of Katie Tougas (Edmonds, Wash.), Meeghan Bergmann (Portland, Ore.), Kaytie Bateman (Chehalis, Wash.), and Candice de Sauvage (Foster City, Calif.) finished in eighth place with a time of 4:01.16. As a team, the Redhawk women finished in eighth place with 21 points, with Texas State taking the team title with 179 points.
“The women's 4x400 ran strong today with a group of ladies who are not all 400 meter runners. Meeghan has also been dealing with a quad injury. Despite this these ladies gave it all they had and put together a solid relay,” Steidl said.
Elsewhere in the field events, Bateman finished 11th in the women’s javelin throw with a top mark of 31.51 meters (103’ 4”), while Amanda Maddux (Gresham, Ore.) was 12th with a best effort of 29.06 meters (95’ 4”). Chris Scaffa (Lake Oswego, Ore.) finished 12th in the hammer throw at 41.86 meters (137’ 4”) and 13th in the discus throw at 40.59 meters (133’ 2”), while Devon Walker (Ventura, Calif.) finished 13th in the hammer at 36.39 meters (119’ 5’) before failing to post a mark in the discus.
“I'd like to recognize the contributions by our graduating seniors for all they have done to help push this program to the level we are at currently: Erik Barkhaus, Kaytie Bateman, Meeghan Bergmann, Sara Blakely, Amanda Luna, Matthew McClement, and Zach Stanfield,” added Steidl. “Without their desire to work hard and do everything they could to be the best team members possible, we wouldn't be where we are today.”
Redshirt junior Dylan Burnett (Lynnwood, Wash.) is in contention to qualify for the NCAA Preliminary Championships in the javelin throw. He will learn whether or not he has been selected this Thursday, May 16, by 10 a.m. Pacific Time, with the West regional taking place in Austin, Texas, May 23-25.