The Valparaiso University track & field team wrapped up a busy weekend on Saturday with several athletes competing at Notre Dame’s Meyo Invitational, while the bulk of the team made its way to Chicago for the University of Chicago’s Windy City Rumble. The team continued to progress in the right direction as the conference championship draws closer, as numerous Beacons bettered their personal records this weekend.
How It Happened – Windy City Rumble
- The team’s top performer in the men’s distance events was Evan Walda (Fort Wayne, Ind. / South Side), who led the way in a 32-competitor mile race with a first-place time of 4:24.91.
- Elsewhere in the men’s distance, Brady Southern (Fishers, Ind. / Hamilton Southeastern) turned in the team’s top 5,000 time of the season with a PR of 16:10.77 to finish as the runner-up, while Nathan Izewski (Palatine, Ill. / Palatine) PR’d in the 3000 at 8:59.37 to finish sixth of 23.
- In the men’s throws, Jeremiah Johnson (Zion, Ill. / Benton) had a standout day, heaving PRs in both the shot put (14.23m, 46-8.25) and weight throw (15.71m, 51-6.5) to finish third in both events. He was third of 27 in the shot put, and was part of a Valpo effort that saw the Beacons take two of the top three spots and three of the top five in the weight throw. His shot marked the team’s best of the season.
- Eddie Juszczak (Lowell, Ind. / Lowell) enjoyed another big day in the weight throw, finishing atop a 21-competitor field at 16.44m (53-11.25) while also notching a personal record in the shot put to finish sixth at 13.67m (44-10.25).
- Valpo also got a strong day in the throws from Will Rinker (Valparaiso, Ind. / Chesterton), who made his debut by tossing 14.74m (48-4.5, fifth) in the weight throw and 11.17m (36-7.75) in the shot put.
- In the high jump, David Engstrom (Buffalo Grove, Ill. / Adlai E. Stevenson) reached a PR and tied for fifth at 1.80m (5-10.75).
- Valpo had two of the top 10 finishers in the 800 as Ja’xon Sibley (2:03.62) (Lafayette, Ind. / McCutcheon) and Sean Curran (2:04.07) (Plainfield, Ill. / Plainfield North) finished sixth and seventh, respectively, while Nehemiah Ray (Chicago, Ill. / Brother Rice) finished fourth of 24 in the 400 at 51.96.
- In the women’s throws, Michelle Pierce (Indianapolis, Ind. / Heritage Christian) won the weight throw at 16.50m (54-1.75), helping Valpo own four of the top six in an 18-person event. Tori Gerhardt (Westville, Ind. / Chesterton) was third with a PR of 14.85m (48-8.75). Lena Luebbering (Heyworth, Ill. / Heyworth) was also part of the team’s solid weight-throw performance with a sixth-place finish behind a PR of 14.20m (46-7.25). Additionally, Pierce finished sixth in the shot put at 11.06m (36-3.5).
- In the women’s distance, a pair of Beacons recorded top-10 finishes in the 3000 as Ellie Roeglin (10:58.47, fifth) (Delafield, Wis. / Lake County Lutheran) and Kaitlynn Leady (11:23.90, 10th) (Chesterton, Ind. / Chesterton) both turned in PRs. Maranda Donahue (Delton, Mich. / Delton-Kellogg) achieved a personal best in the one-mile run at 5:28.33, finishing sixth of 22.
How It Happened – Meyo Invitational
- Simeon Ehm (Castle Rock, Colo. / Heritage) finished the 3,000m run in 8:44.70, just a second off his PR set last week.
- Grace Aurand (Highland, Ind. / Highland) stopped the clock in 5:08.36 in the one-mile run, finishing 24th of 37 in a talented field and solidifying a new personal best in the event.
- Ignacio Veloz Bonilla (San Juan, P.R. / American Military Academy) ran in the 800 and posted a 1:55.40, an indoor personal best.
Thoughts from Head Coach Ryan Moore
“We saw big performances on the track from the distance group. Several of the athletes dropped big PRs. Will Rinker opened his season with a solid performance in weight throw. Jeremiah Johnson had big PRs in both events. He’s a super hard worker and has been getting after it every week. It’s great to see his work paying off. Nehemiah Ray continues to show he’s got real speed in the sprints. The distance crew is peaking when it counts. Evan Walda had a solid win in the mile, and it was good to see Nate Izewski and Brady Southern with PRs. Those guys are all working hard to be their very best and leave a mark on the program.”
“Maranda Donahue had a solid showing in the mile, and Ellie and Kaitlynn had solid PRs in the 3,000. Michelle bounced back after last night at Notre Dame to have the second-best throw of her weight throw career. Gerhardt PR’d again in weight throw and Luebbering cracked 14m for the first time in the weight throw. This is what we’re looking to see only a few short weeks before conference.”
After a weekend off, the Beacons will be back at it on Saturday, Feb. 19 at the ISU Open hosted by Indiana State in Terre Haute, Ind.