The Valparaiso University track & field team competed in the Illini Classic on Saturday in Champaign, Ill., an event hosted by the University of Illinois that was shortened to one day due to inclement weather on Friday. Valpo got several strong performances in the throws including multiple personal bests.
How It Happened
- The men’s hammer throw was a positive event for the Beacons, led by the 53.55-meter heave from Alek Trafton (Lockport, Ill. / Lockport), who finished fourth in a 20-competitor event and established a new personal best. Valpo had three top-10 finishers in that event as Trafton was followed by Eddie Juszczak (Lowell, Ind. / Lowell) at 51.56m (sixth) and Jeremiah Johnson (Zion, Ill. / Benton) at 41.78m (10th).
- In the women’s hammer, Valpo owned two of the top three spots, led by a new career watermark from Lena Luebbering (Heyworth, Ill. / Heyworth). She unleashed a throw of 42.29 to take second, while teammate Michelle Pierce (Indianapolis, Ind. / Heritage Christian) was third at 41.57. Pierce added an eighth-place finish in the shot put (11.39).
- Elsewhere in the throws, Tori Gerhardt (Westville, Ind. / Chesterton) established a PR of 34.51 in the discus to place ninth and lead the Valpo group. In the men’s discus, it was Johnson leading the way with a mark of 43.09 that ranked sixth of nearly 20 participants. Johnson was joined in the top 10 by Trafton at 42.25m.
- In the pole vault, Tristan Malatlian (Pfafftown, N.C. / Reagan) came in third at 4.45m.
- In the distance races, Ignacio Veloz Bonilla (San Juan, P.R. / American Military Academy) turned in a 1:55.77 in the men’s 800 to place eighth of 24. Maranda Donahue was the first Beacon to cross the finish in the women’s 800 at 2:22.96 (12th/21), while Grace Aurand (Highland, Ind. / Highland) turned in an 18:13.15 in the 5,000 to pace the team and place 19th of 29.
- In the sprints, it was Nehemiah Ray (Chicago, Ill. / Brother Rice) leading Valpo in the men’s 100 (11.23, eighth) and 200 (22.82, 11th). Ethan Litavecz (Highland, Ind. / Highland) crossed 10th in the 110 hurdles at 16.35, while Marion Isaac (Evergreen Park, Ill. / Evergreen Park) led three Beacons in the women’s 200 at 29.71, placing eighth.
Valpo will next compete on Friday, April 22 as the team returns to Champaign to participate in the Illini Invitational.