NAMPA – (Feb. 25) The Redhawk track and field teams once again come home highly decorated.
Seattle U student-athletes grabbed two gold, one silver, and three bronze medals over the weekend at the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Indoor Track and Field Championships in Nampa, Idaho.
One the third and final day of competition, head coach Trisha Steidl’s prediction after Day 2 of “It’s going to be a great day for the Redhawks!” rang true.
Jacques Hebert took home gold in the one mile run after a personal record time of 4:15.05, close to the school record.
“Jacques won the 1500m last outdoor season and I know he's had a target on backing that up indoors,” Steidl said. “His strength and speed endurance have improved since last outdoor season. That, coupled with his dead-on focus and desire to get this title put him in position to mentally and physically be prepared to do what he did today. He looked in control the whole time and made confident moves.”
After winning the mile, Hebert had another race to compete in – the 3,000.
Steidl was proud of following the mile with a strong, sixth-place finish performance in the 3,000 (8:40.50).
“He could've rested on his win, but he's a true competitor and showed today that he'll always give his all,” Steidl said. “I'm proud of the focus, effort, and energy he's put into this and am excited to see him continue to build as there's still a lot more he can achieve going forward.”
In the women’s mile, Johanna Erickson also made the podium, grabbing silver – her first WAC medal – with a time of 5:02.88, a personal record.
“Johanna showed what I've known she's been capable of all season in the mile final today,” Steidl said. “She ran a smart, poised race and really pushed herself and showed a confidence she hasn't been able to summon often in the past.
Steidl said Erickson’s performance was a culmination of years of racing in this program, and on Day 3, she saw the effort come to fruition.
“She's seeing the previous two years of training, effort, and focus pay off and it's paying off in a big way,” Steidl said. “She's trusted in the process and continued to forge ahead, staying determined, and this year all of that is shining through. This was a true breakout race for her and I expect you'll see a lot more where this came from.”
Mandie Maddux grabbed medal No. 2 of the weekend by finishing with a bronze medal performance in the high jump with a mark of 1.62m (5-3.75).
As a senior on the team, this was her final Championship indoor meet, and it was a great way to go out.
“Mandie had a great final indoor meet,” assistant coach Chad Pharis said. “She competed in nine events over three days and had great marks in each of them. She did a great job of recovering before each event and brought great energy and focus. High jump went as expected. We knew it would come down to misses to medal. She did a great job early on to ensure first attempt clearances. That paid off in the end in the form of a bronze medal.”
Three other Redhawks just barely missed bringing home a medal of their own, but regardless, should be incredibly proud of their achievements.
In the men’s 400, Janzen Aguilar-Nelson built on his exceptional performance in the preliminaries with a fourth place finish time of 48.87, a new personal record.
“Janzen had an exciting race,” Pharis said. “He was pushed around at the cut in but wound up gaining the edge. He ran his race plan, out-leaned a competitor at the line, and ended with a nice personal in his first full indoor season.”
In the women’s 800, Siobhan Rubio also set a new personal record time on her way to finishing in fourth place with a time of 2:17.89.
“Siobhan and I talked about a race plan ahead of time and she did a great job executing that,” Steidl said. “She looked strong throughout the race and I'm proud of how she ran at this meet as well as how well she placed, especially considering she is a freshman.”
In the men’s 3,000, Chay Weaver finished in fourth with a time of 8:35.93.
“Chay ran a smart, strong race,” Steidl said. “He got into a good position, stayed in position as to not waste energy, and moved up the field in the second half…He executed the plan well and it paid off. It was great to see his tenacity shine through, especially in those last couple of laps. He gave it all he had and was rewarded with a great finish.”
As the WAC Indoor Championships came to a close, it was a good time to reflect on what the team could take from their performances and experiences at the height of competition.
The Redhawks proved they come to meets ready to compete and finish high.
Pharis even admits he lost track of the number of personal records set by the student-athletes over the weekend.
“The team brought their best and left it all out there,” Pharis said. “The fight the team had this weekend is what I hoped to see. We wanted this meet to be a building block for the year, and we came out ready for outdoor.”
Steidl echoed this sense of pride in what the team brought to the Conference Championships.
“The team competed well and learned a lot from the conference meet this week,” Steidl said. “We have a lot of great things to build upon, so I'm looking forward to seeing how we can improve upon the great things we already saw as we go into the outdoor season.”
The outdoor track and field season begins on March 18 when the Redhawks travel to Portland, Ore. to compete in the Lewis and Clark Spring Break Open.
More quotes from Coach Steidl:
On Moira O'Connor Lenth: "Moira came out guns blazing in the 3000m. She wasn't afraid to lead the race for a significant distance and really gave everything she had in the final couple of laps to earn her 6th place finish. I was proud to see her push so hard and run with such confidence after coming off a disappointing race in the mile earlier."
On Anastasia Honea: "Anastasia also did a good job of racing well in the 3000m after not having as strong of a race as we both thought she was capable of having in the mile. Despite the somewhat disappointing race, she still finished 8th in a strong field. She's also been dealing with a shin issue that was exacerbated during the mile final. After the warm up for the 3000m, she made the decision to go ahead and race it and ran strong to earn another scoring place."
On Lila Rice: "Lila had a tough day. She was running great in the mile and then fell. She did a fantastic job of getting back up and getting after it, eventually moving back into 2nd place. Unfortunately, all the energy she had used to get to that point hit her by the end and she wasn't able to have the strong finish she normally has. I'm so proud of how gutsy she ran today. While it stinks that she wasn't able to battle for the win, her perseverance and competitiveness was fantastic to see."
On the 4x400 relay teams:
(Katie Fleming, Abby Wachter, Mandy Rusch, Mandie Maddux) - "Each of the women in the 4x4 team ran really strong legs. It was fun to watch them come together and push so hard. They ran great and capped off the women's competition with a bang."
(Keith Beasley, Kailan Claiborne, Bleu Perez, Alexandro Carrasco) - "The men's 4x4 included a couple of guys who have never run a 400 before. You couldn't tell by the poise they showed today. They were out of their comfort zone event-wise, yet had no hesitation to step up and race to cap off the day for the team. They brought great energy and mixed in well with their more experienced teammates."