The Valparaiso University track & field team opened up the two-day Illini Invitational on Friday in Champaign, Ill. as the team made its second trip to the University of Illinois this season. Freshman Nehemiah Ray (Chicago, Ill. / Brother Rice) cracked the program record book in the 200-meter dash to provide a highlight for the Beacons.
How It Happened
- Ray cracked the top five in program history with a time of 21.73 seconds in the men’s 200. He outdid his previous outdoor personal best of 22.38 and his previous overall PR of 22.27. His time on Friday, which earned him a 12th-place finish in a field of 37, is the fifth-fastest outdoor 200-meter dash in program history and fastest since 2012. He bumped Nick Kowaleski (21.76, 2012) from the program’s all-time top five.
- In the men’s hammer throw, Valpo placed two in the top 15 and one in the top 10 in a field of over 25 competitors. The Beacons were led by an Alek Trafton (Lockport, Ill. / Lockport) toss that covered 53.30m, which led to a ninth-place finish. He was joined in the top 15 by Eddie Juszczak (Lowell, Ind. / Lowell), who delivered a heave of 49.26m.
- In the men’s pole vault, Tristan Malatlian (Pfafftown, N.C. / Reagan) tied for third by clearing 4.58 meters. In the men’s javelin, Ethan Litavecz (Highland, Ind. / Highland) turned in a team-best heave of 47.02m to place sixth. That was the squad’s best mark of the season in that event.
- Marion Isaac (Evergreen Park, Ill. / Evergreen Park) led Valpo in the women’s 200 at 28.62 seconds.
- A pair of Beacons earned places in the top 20 in a competitive women’s hammer throw field. Lena Luebbering (Heyworth, Ill. / Heyworth) finished 16th with a heave of 43.72 meters, while Michelle Pierce (Indianapolis, Ind. / Heritage Christian) achieved a 20th-place finish by checking in at 42.11m. Luebbering’s heave not only established a new personal record in the event, surpassing her mark from the last time Valpo went to the University of Illinois, but it also represented the team’s top hammer throw of the season.
- Two Beacons finished back-to-back in the women’s 1,500, with Grace Aurand (Highland, Ind. / Highland) clocking in at 4:51.28 to edge Maranda Donahue’s (Delton, Mich. / Delton-Kellogg) time of 4:52.20 for 26th. Aurand now owns the team’s top time of the season in that event. In the women’s 5,000, Ellie Roeglin (Delafield, Wis. / Lake County Lutheran) had the top time at 19:07.38.
- In the men’s distance, Ignacio Veloz Bonilla (San Juan, P.R. / American Military Academy) led the way with a 1,500 time of 3:59.48. That put him in 15th in a field that featured 35 runners. That marked the team’s top 1,500 time of the season. Simeon Ehm (Castle Rock, Colo. / Heritage) led Valpo in the men’s 5,000 at 15:07.97, placing 18th of 38.
Valpo will continue the Illini Invitational on Saturday in Champaign. A link to live results via ShaZam Racing is available on ValpoAthletics.com.