April 27, 2004

Mens's and women's track sprint to third place

Both the men's and the women's track and field teams finished third in the overall standings at the 2004 UAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships this past weekend at Carnegie Mellon University.

Fourth-years Tom Haxton and Adeoye Mabogunje led the men's side, combining to set three UAA records while third-year Erin Steiner, fourth-year Val Anderson, and second-year Jessica Winter all captured individual UAA titles for the women.

But it was Haxton, in his final UAA appearance, who stole the show for the Maroons.

Haxton, who currently holds the top 10K time in Division III (29:52.90), began the meet on Saturday in top form, winning the men's 10K run easily in a UAA record and NCAA provisionally qualifying time of 30:45.57, almost 50 seconds ahead of second place Phil Hagedorn of Emory University (31:35.41).

The previous UAA record of 30:51.30, set by Andy Kimball of Brandeis University, had stood for twelve years.

Haxton then set a second UAA record on Sunday, winning the men's 5K in a time of 14:49.15, beating the old mark of 14:56.24, set by Aaron Holley of Brandeis University in 1997.

"I felt Tom ran the toughest double in the meet and did it better than anyone in the history of the conference," head coach Chris Hall said. "Not only to win both races but to hit NCAA standards and set UAA records in both is an amazing accomplishment in those long distance events."

Haxton's historic double was not without a bitter twist of controversy as he was not named Athlete of the Meet, a snub that came as a surprise to many athletes and coaches.

"What does a distance runner have to do to win Athlete of the Meet?" asked teammate, third-year Brandon Halcott. "It seems almost impossible. Haxton deserved the award."

T.J. Jennings, of Emory University, the meet's top point scorer, was named Athlete of the Meet on the men's side.

Mabogunje, also in his last UAA appearance, proved himself ready for a little bit of record-setting, netting the UAA record in the triple jump with a distance of 14.83 meters, besting the old mark of 14.61, set by Troy Thompson of Emory University in 1994. Mabogunje also finished fourth in the long jump competition with a mark of 6.90 meters.

Fourth-year Patrick Sullivan, who set the UAA record in the 1500 meters a year ago (3:51.11), also earned All-UAA honors, with his second place in the 1500 meters in an NCAA provisionally qualifying time of 3:54.99.

Emory University won the men's meet with a total of 205 points. Washington University was second with 194, and Chicago finished third with 112.5. Although the Maroons certainly did no worse than expected, they did not improve on the indoor season's third place finish as they had hoped to do.

For the women's side, Anderson, Steiner, and Winter proved a powerful trio, combining to score 39 points, almost a full third of the women's team total of 122.5.

Anderson won the hammer throw competition with a mark of 44.22 meters, finished third in the discus (34.04 meters), and then finished sixth in the shot put competition (10.82 meters).

Steiner, who had been favored to win the 10K outright, finished third in that event in 38.43.80, but came back on Sunday to win the 5K competition in a personal best time of 17:56.50.

"Erin had a really tough first day in the 10K," Hall said. "She looked really tired and struggled throughout the race. We needed the points in the 5K on day two and somehow she pulled herself together and competed extremely well, not just by winning the event but also by running the fastest time of her life. Her 5K gave us the 3rd place finish."

"On day two, I just decided that it was a new day and that I would give it my best," Steiner said. "I actually thought that I was running much slower in the 5K because my legs felt a little dead from the 10K. It was really great to make up for a terrible 10K with a win and a lifetime personal record."

Winter rounded out the triumvirate, winning the 1500 meters in an NCAA provisionally qualifying and personal best time of 4:40.11. She then came back an hour later to finish fifth in the 800 meters in a time of 2:20.06.

"When Jessica approached me about doubling the 800 and 1500 meters I knew it would be a very difficult task, especially given all the rounds of prelims the day before," Hall noted. "She responded extremely well, winning the 1500 and running a lifetime best and NCAA standard time. That race took a lot out of her. Coming back an hour later to the 800 it was apparent she was a little tired. She still fought for the win until the last 100 meters; a real gutsy performance."

Second-year Annie Sanders finished an impressive second in the 3K steeplechase with a time of 11:35.97 to earn All-UAA accolades.

First-years Jackie Kropp and Andrea Kelliholokai also earned All-UAA distinctions. Kropp placed third in the 800 meter, and Kelliholokai was third in the 200 meter dash.

Washington University won the meet with 204.5 points, Emory was second with 181 and Chicago was third with 122.5.

Track heads to Naperville, Illinois this weekend to compete in the Cardinal Classic.