The EMU track and field teams had a very successful start to the outdoor season and landed 28 ODAC qualifiers over two different meets over the weekend. The majority of the Royals were in Lexington, Va., for the W&L Carnival, and a trio of throwers went to Salem, Va., for the Roanoke College Invitational.
Sophomore Hannah Chappell-Dick (Bluffton, Oh./Bluffton) had the only gold for the weekend, winning the 800m in 2:17.21. She was nearly two seconds ahead of her nearest competitor in a large field of 41 women. Chappell-Dick also finished fifth in the 400m, clocking at 1:00.72. That race had a tight finish, as she was within a quarter of a second of third place.
Elsewhere for the women in Lexington, Juni Schirch (Goshen, Ind./Goshen) and Hannah Patterson (Puyallup, Wash./Mountainview International) qualified for ODAC in the 400m, crossing in 1:04.99 and 1:07.12, respectively. Schirch also earned a ticket in the 800m with a time of 2:27.70.
The Royals qualified three runners in the 5000m, led by Lanae Kreider (Harrisonburg, Va./Broadway) in 11th place with a time of 19:32.58. Krista Rittenhouse (Mt. Pleasant, Pa./Mt. Pleasant Area)crossed in 19:52.71 and Patty Danaher (Matoaca, Va./Matoaca) clocked at 20:33.23, easily breaking the 21-minute barrier for the first time in her career.
Alyssa Bane (Strasburg, Va./Strasburg) and Becca Borg (Gig Harbor, Wash./Peninsula) participated in the Roanoke meet, and both had runner-up finishes there. Bane took second in the discus with a PR throw of 33.20m (108-11ft). She just missed third in the hammer throw, settling for fourth at 34.95m (114-8ft). Borg PRed in the javelin, taking silver with a distance of 30.78m (101-0ft).
The men had the second- and third-place finishers in the high jump at the W&L Carnival. Sophomore Drew Vrolijk (Harrisonburg, Va./Eastern Mennonite) took silver with the No. 5 jump in EMU history, clearing 1.97m (6-5.5ft). Jordan King (Dalton, Oh./Central Christian) earned the bronze, having a best height of 1.92m (6-3.5ft).
Jared Nisly (Lancaster, Pa./Lancaster Mennonite) took a conservative approach to his first 3,000m steeplechase experience but still came through with an ODAC qualifying time of 10:45.01 which places him seventh on the EMU top-10 list.
Jacob Landis (Sterling, Ill./Sterling) made his outdoor 5,000m debut a solid one as the junior came through with a time of 15:25.08 which was good for seventh place. The time also places him No. 2 on the EMU top-10 list. Ryan Gehman (Millersville, Pa./Lancaster Mennonite) now sits at No. 5 on the EMU list with his time of 15:33.46. Jonathan Nisly (Bluffton, Oh./Bluffton) also had a solid showing in his outdoor 5000m debut running a personal best time of 16:16.43.
Alec Thibodeaux (Staunton, Va./Fort Defiance) finished third in the 800m, clocking at 1:57.06. He was just over one second out of first place. Tyler Denlinger(Perkasie, Pa./Christopher Dock) crossed seventh in 1:58.62. Both men also qualified for ODACs in the 400m, with Thibodeaux registering a time of :52.30 and Denlinger coming in at :52.79.
Sophomore Jonathan Bush (Pottstown, Pa./Owen J. Roberts) led a large EMU contingent in the event, taking tenth in :51.65. Philip Watson (Philadelphia, Pa./La Salle) wasn’t far behind in :52.03, while Londen Wheeler (Nelson, Va./Nelson County) was the last of the five Royals in :53.46.
Sprinter Rashan Winters (Mechanicsville, Va./Atlee) was sixth in the 200m, timing at :22.62, and was tenth in the 100m in :11.31. Terry Dotson (Appomattox, Va./Appomattox) also qualified for ODACs in the 200m, coming in at :23.16.
Jeremy Heizer (Staunton Va./Riverheads) highlighted his day by taking third in the shot put in Roanoke, landing at 11.96m (39-3ft).
Coach Jason Lewkowicz said he was very pleased with the start to the outdoor season.
“We had a hard week of training across the board and to see the team perform this well on tired legs is a great sign,” he explained. “We were blessed with great weather and great competitive atmospheres. With such a young team, it is important that we take each opportunity to go out, compete, and show consistent improvement. This weekend was a great step in the right direction. We look forward to having a lot of fans come out to support us next Saturday at Bridgewater!”
The Eastern Mennonite track teams give their fans the best chance of the year to see them participate next Saturday, when they compete at the Dr. Harry GM Jopson Invitational hosted by Bridgewater College.