The Valparaiso University men’s and women’s track and field teams opened the 2019-20 season Friday at Notre Dame’s Blue & Gold Invitational. Sierra Fischer (Brookfield, Wis./ Brookfield [Carroll]) started the campaign off on the right foot, nearing the program record for the 400-meter dash. Fellow senior Bryce Otterbach (Mendota, Ill./ Mendota Township) also enjoyed a successful start to the season, recording two PRs.
How It Happened
- Fischer opened her season with a bang, placing fourth in the 400-meter dash with a career-best time of 57.96. Not only did Fischer beat her previous indoor best by over two seconds, she also recorded the program’s second-best time ever—she is less than one-fifth of a second away from Karie Dahlgren’s record of 57.82, established in 1998.
- Fischer also neared her best in the 200-meter dash, crossing the line at 26.23. Taylor Allen (Zionsville, Ind./ Zionsville) led the men’s team in the 200 at 22.92. Ben Sekuloski (Lowell, Ind./ Lowell) was a close second, finishing at 23.21. Two other Valpo runners set personal bests in the event: Otterbach finished with a time of 23.42, and freshman Lukas Sepulveda started his career with a 23.33 mark.
- Otterbach also set a personal record in the 400-meter dash with a time of 51.16, while Sekuloski led the men’s team in the event at 50.51.
- In his first meet since May 2018, Collin McCullough (Hartland, Wis./Arrowhead) led the Brown and Gold in the long jump, recording a career-best indoor mark of 20-9 ¼ (6.33m).
- Sepulveda continued to make his mark in his first collegiate meet, leading his new team in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.26. Brian Hughes (Orland Park, Ill./Carl Sandburg) also set a career-best in the event, coming across the line at 7.55.
- Jeremy Seiler (Angola, Ind./ Fremont) opened the season with a mark of 14-9¼ (4.50m) in the pole vault.
- Junior T.J. Weinzimmer (Northbrook, Ill./ Glenbrook North) led Valpo in the triple jump, recording a mark of 42-3 (12.88m). McCullough also competed in the event, hitting 40-11¾ (12.49m).
- Shannon Lahey (Dixon, Ill./ Dixon) opened the season with a 15-10¼ (4.83m) mark in the long jump.
- Will Maidment (Woodstock, Ill./ Woodstock) opened the campaign with a 6-2¾ (1.90m) mark in the high jump. David Engstrom, in his first collegiate meet, posted a height 5-8¾ (1.75m) in the event.
- Valpo did not participate in field events at Friday’s meet. Instead, the throwers stayed on campus to train in an inter-squad meet, and Coach Ryan Moore was enthused about their performance. “Today was a big day for the throwers,” Moore said. “Their time to compete will come in January.”
Thoughts from Assistant Coach James Overbo
“What’s nice about having a solid early-season opener like this meet is seeing the work from practice translate to competition, and we saw a lot of positives form this meet, for sure. Sierra’s PR was a big one. I could tell when she ran past me that she was running well, and I wasn’t surprised when I saw her time. Bryce had a double PR. He will be preparing for the 400 hurdles in the outdoor season. For now, it’s about trying to drop his 200 and 400 times so he can ultimately drop his time in the 400 hurdles later in the year.”
“It was nice to see McCullough start off well in the long jump, especially after him being abroad last semester. To start the year with a PR is really encouraging. As for Lukas, I think his performance is something we were expecting him to run. He’s a really good short sprinter, and this time puts him already in line with the other sprinters. It will be nice to see what he can do in the spring when we continue the indoor season.”
Valpo will return in the spring semester to continue the indoor portion of their schedule with the GVSU Bill Clinger Classic in Allendale, Mich. on Friday, Jan. 17.