TRACK: Personal bests abound for Tops

Josh Buckman

Western’s track team continued to improve last weekend at the Commodore Invitationals at Vanderbilt.

For the second straight week junior sprinter Jonathon Brown qualified for NCAA Regionals. Brown qualified with a second place finish in the 100-meter dash in 10.37 seconds.

Brown qualified in the 200-meter dash last week after missing the start of the outdoor season because of a hamstring injury.

“I am surprised because I didn’t think I would be this far with the hamstring injury,” Brown said.

The only Hilltopper to win an event was sophomore Raigo Toompuu, who won the discus throw with a mark of 48.94 meters.

Other strong performers for Western included a second place finish in the 1500-meter run by junior Enda Grandfield (3 minutes, 52 seconds.90). Freshman Kristo Galeta (15.68 meters) and Toompuu (15.33 meters) finished fourth and fifth in the shot put.

Junior Matthew Moore finished fourth in the javelin throw at 48.90 meters and in the pole vault at 4.35 meters. Junior teammate David Altmaier finished third (15:06.29) in the 5000-meter run.

Overall the Hilltoppers finished fourth with 77 points, behind Sun Belt rival Middle Tennessee (148), Illinois State (147) and Louisville (81).

“(Middle Tennessee) is a very strong program,” coach Curtiss Long said. “It is always well run and very well coached.”

On the women’s side sophomore Cara Nichols broke the 20-year-old school record in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:12.08.

“I was just trying to run my own race, and hold onto the front runners during the last lap,” Nichols said. I was going to try to win it. I was with two other girls going into the last curve. I just tried to pass them, but I ended up in third, but I still got the record.”

It was also a good day for senior Olga Cronin. Cronin finished second (4:33.05) in the 1,500-meter run, and was just .02 seconds behind Vanderbilt’s Catlin Shannon for first.

Junior Erin Gruenke finished second in the discuss with a toss of 144-2.

The Lady Toppers finished eighth with 31.33 points, behind Vanderbilt (125), Illinois State (118.50), Tennessee State (104.33), Middle Tennessee State (97.50), Rhodes College (42.67), Murray State (37) and Memphis (33.33).

The team as a whole saw 16 personal bests set over the weekend which has Long believing that the team is heading in the right direction.

This weekend six members of the team will travel to Oregon to compete in the Oregon Invitational while the rest of the team will compete at the Cardinal Invitational in Louisville.

Reach Josh Buckman at [email protected]