With the indoor Missouri Valley Conference championships just over a week away, the Valparaiso University track & field team enjoyed strong showings in the final pre-championship tune-up on Saturday afternoon at the ISU Open, hosted by Indiana State University in Terre Haute.
How It Happened
- The Valpo women’s throwers had an outstanding day in the weight throw, sweeping the top four spots. Mackenzie Patten (Highland, Mich. / Milford) won the event with a 16.53m (54-2.75) throw, followed by Michelle Pierce (Indianapolis, Ind. / Heritage Christian) at 15.71m (51-6.5) and Tori Gerhardt (Westville, Ind. / Chesterton) at 14.7m (48-2.75). Lena Luebbering (Heyworth, Ill. / Heyworth) established a new personal record at 14.24m (46-8.75) to take fourth.
- Patten’s mark obliterated her previous PR and helped her crack the top five in program history in the indoor weight throw. She outdid Megan Howdeshell’s previous fifth-place throw of 52-7.25 for fifth. Current throwers account for 40 percent of the program’s all-time top five in that event, as Pierce ranks fourth.
- Sophomore Grace Aurand (Highland, Ind. / Highland) completed the mile race in 5:14.78 to win the event. Ellie Roeglin (Delafield, Wis. / Lake County Lutheran) turned in a PR of 5:25.47 to help Valpo finish with two runners in the top five as she placed fifth. In addition, Joelyn Overstreet (Genoa, Ill. / Genoa-Kingston) ran a PR of her own at 5:28.69 to finish seventh.
- The mile was also a strong event for the Beacons on the men’s side with Ignacio Veloz Bonilla (San Juan, P.R. / American Military Academy) clocking a 4:25.55 to finish as the runner-up. Nathan Izewski (Palatine, Ill. / Palatine) had a PR of 4:27.13 to place fifth and Simeon Ehm (Castle Rock, Colo. / Heritage) was sixth at 4:28.70.
- Valpo’s 4x400 relay squad of Nehemiah Ray (Chicago, Ill. / Brother Rice), Ethan Litavecz (Highland, Ind. / Highland), Ja’xon Sibley (Lafayette, Ind. / McCutcheon) and Veloz Bonilla placed second in 3:32.02.
- In the pole vault, Tristan Malatlian (Pfafftown, N.C. / Reagan) turned in a third-place mark of 4.67m (15-3.75).
- The men’s weight throw saw Valpo place two in the top five. Eddie Juszczak (Lowell, Ind. / Lowell) was fourth at 16.95m (55-7.50), followed by Alek Trafton (Lockport, Ill. / Lockport)¸who PR’d at 16.82m (55-2.25).
- The Valpo women placed third in the team score, while the men placed fourth.
Thoughts from Head Coach Ryan Moore
“We enjoyed a solid day at ISU today. This was a great tune-up for us as we head into championships next weekend. We were able to return several women to the track this week who have been battling injury this season, and it was great to see that group running again and getting a meet under their belt. This was also the first time we ran a 4x4 on either side of the program this year, so it was nice to be in the mix all the way to the end of things this go-round. Tristan has continued to find success week after week and (associate head coach) James (Overbo) showed me a picture of him way over what he jumped at today, so that was very encouraging. If he makes a few minor adjustments going into next week, he could end up with a huge performance at the right time. It took Alek Trafton almost two years to return to form in the weight throw, but he bested his PR today in the event on his final throw. He’s been getting closer and closer to big marks each week. It was great to see it pay off. Mackenzie Patten moved into fifth all-time just behind Michelle Pierce today with a massive PR. We finally talked her into throwing the right weight designed with someone like her in mind. Our mile crew had a solid day as well.”
“I believe that things are coming together at the right time, and I’m confident we will have a group of PRs coming out of next weekend’s conference meet.”
The two-day MVC Indoor Championships will begin on Sunday, Feb. 27 as Valpo and Loyola cohost the event at Gately Park in Chicago. Links to live results and an ESPN+ broadcast will be available on ValpoAtheltics.com.