The University of Indianapoliss men and womens track and field teams traveled to Bellarmine University to participate in the Bellarmine Invitational on April 8-9. The weekend before, the Hounds traveled to Marian University and competed in the Marian University Invitational on April 1-2. The Greyhounds also had four distances runners travel to St. Louis, Mo. on the same weekend to compete in the Washington University Invitational.
At Bellarmine, the women had six first place finishes. Sophomore Kieran Casey earned first in the 800-meter run with a time off 2:14.86. Sophomore Briana Leonard earned first in the 1500-meter and teammate freshman Mickayla Wenzell earned second. Leonard finished with a time of 4:52.55, and Wenzell with a time of 4:52.99. The Hounds also claimed first in the 4×100 with freshman Ashanetta Harris, junior Majaica Brooks, junior Chelsea Yeadon and senior Arianna Ware with a time of 48.28. In pole vault, senior Chelsea Weiland vaulted 3.30 meters to secure first place. With four fouls in the shot put junior Lissette Mendivil earned first place with a distance of 12.60 meters, and in discus secured first place with a toss of 45.62 meters.
For the men, junior Quinntyn Qualls held a first place finish in the 400-meter dash after a runoff against freshman teammate Antwan Martin. In 4:02.67, senior Joel Keller finished first in the 1500-meter run. For the 110-meter hurdles, sophomore Andrew Kittridge finished first with a time of 15.59. Just like Weiland in the pole vault for the women, sophomore Ben Hodges vaulted 4.25 meters for a first place finish. In the long jump senior Josh Bass finished with 6.99 meters for first place. Junior Shaquelle Lewis earned first in the shot put with a distance of 15.72.
At Marian, Head Track and Field Coach Scott Fangman said the weather might have affected the athletes performances because it was so cold and windy.
Well, I can only sum it up in what [Head Baseball] Coach [Gary] Vaught said, Fangman said. They [the baseball players] played two doubleheaders back-to-back, and one young man hit an obvious foul that was going well out of bounds and the wind just picked it up and carried it literally to the middle of the field. And so if the wind is going to move a ball like that, its going to have impact on what we do, which is running, jumping and throwing. It [the weather] had a huge impact, and none of it was favorable with the rules by the NCAA and USA Track and Field and all other organizations and committees that we follow for track and field. We get no wind advantage.
At Marion, for the men, junior Vincent Ziraldo set an NCAA provisional mark in the hammer throw with 55.64 meters, earning himself second place. In shot put, Lewis bounced back, after faulting in his first throw, to earn a third-place finish with 15.32 meters. Qualls finished in fifth place in the 400-meter with a time of 49.68. Keller finished fourth in the 5000-meters with a time of 14:55, and freshman DeAndre Bluitt placed fourth in the men’s high jump with 1.93 meters. In the decathlon, junior Matthew Dorris finished third.
Qualls said that his time in the 400-meter was a good place to start for the outdoor season.
It was pretty good, it was a nice starting point, Qualls said. It wasnt as good as I wanted it to be, but it just lets me know that I need to put a little bit more work in to get ready for the upcoming championship season.
For the women, seniors Amy Walker and Haley Havert both placed fourth in their event, the 1500-meter and 5000-meter, respectively. Brooks earned a third place finish in the 100-meter hurdles. Mendivils discus toss of 45.89 meters landed in second and earned her an NCAA provisional mark. In the womens heptathlon, sophomore Hannah Patton finished in second place. Casey set a new school record in the 5000-meter at Washington, finishing in seventh overall.
Yeadon said that the cold also had an effect on the athletes at Marian.
I feel like it would’ve been a really good meet, but since it was so cold, not everybody ran to their fullest potential. I feel like thats just the risk you have to take though with running track, especially in the start of the outdoor season, Yeadon said.
With so many members on the track and field teams, Yeadon said that sometimes the team has struggled to support one another in past years, but this year is different.
For the team, I feel like weve really tried to have a stronger team unity because in the past, we haven’t really supported the different areas of the track team, Yeadon said. In this year, I have really seen a significant difference of everyone coming together and actually being a team. I feel like that is something we have all really improved on.
Qualls hopes that with the support of one another, the team can win conference this year, especially after falling to Lewis University at the Great Lakes Valley Conference Indoor Championship.
As far as the team goes, we want to get back to winning conference, Qualls said. My freshman year, when I was here, we won conference indoor and outdoor. This year, indoor, we got second to Lewis by 20 points, I think. For outdoor, we really want to go for the team title again. I really think we can win the outdoor; I really do.
At the beginning of the teams outdoor season, a few of the UIndy track and field team members attended the 9th Annual Celebration of Caring Fundraising Gala to benefit Peyton Manning Childrens Hospital. Yeadon was a part of this celebration, which she described as heartwarming.
It [the gala] was really touching, honestly, Yeadon said. It was a very extravagant event. The best of the best were there, you know, all of the physicians, the Papa Johns guy was there and Peyton Manning and his family were there.
According to Yeadon, former patients of the hospital went around to tables and collected donation cards from those who attended. This event was a follow-up event to another celebration event, Key to the Cure.
Both Yeadon and Qualls believe that in giving back to the community as a student and athlete of UIndy is important.
I think it [volunteering] is prominent for the teams and students here on campus, because I feel like giving back is always the right thing to do and a really positive thing to do, whether its for the track team or for UIndy, Yeadon said.
Qualls sees volunteering as a way to pay it forward.
For one, giving back makes you feel good; and two, it gives you ease of mind knowing that youre doing the right thing; and it helps to know that youre doing something for somebody else, Qualls said. Its also good to know that by doing that something for somebody else, youre relieving them of their stress or giving them hope, whether it be by donating money or providing some kind of community service. I guess another way to say it is that it pays it forwardinstead of always taking, taking, taking, youre giving back, youre paying it forward.
The track and field teams will travel to Marion, Ind., to compete in the Indiana Intercollegiate event on April 15-16.