TRACK: Track team has record day against MTSU

Amber North

Western’s track team continues to prove it’s one Sun Belt Conference team to watch.

At the Blue Raider Classic held at Middle Tennessee State University Saturday, the team once again came back to Bowling Green as the event’s top performers.

There were records broken, five first-place winners, and yet another Sun Belt Performer of the Week.

Junior Ryan Thomas just came off a national championship season with football, but with just two weeks of practice with the track team he is now the school’s new record holder of the weight throw.

Thomas’s throw at 49-1 placed him second at the meet and surpassed teammate Raigo Toompuu’s (who was out due to irritated wrist and ribs) record of 47-2.25.

“I was pretty excited,” Thomas said. “For most schools, it is not too far, but I plan on breaking it a lot more.’

Student assistant and thrower Craig Morehead also got a piece of the action as well. He finished third, throwing 48-6.25.

The top finisher for the Hilltoppers was freshman Kristo Galeta in the shot put competition. He recorded a 48-0 throw.

Records fell on the women’s side as well.

Junior Misty Hair broke her own school record in the weight throw with a 46-5.50

“There was excellent competition in the throws and the throwers had enthusiasm that was contagious,” coach Curtiss Long said.

“Everybody had a pretty good day,” Morehead said.

Sophomore Cara Nichols was awarded for her stellar performance in the 800-meter run last week, earning her first Sun Belt Performer of the Week honor.

“It’s very well for Cara, running out of her basic event,” Long said. “She led from start to finish in the mile and in the mile relay she broke 60 seconds — good speed for a distance runner.”

Nichols placed first in the mile run with a 5:08.43. Behind her were sophomore Bonita Paul placing second (5:15.50), senior Janette Pike placing third (5:26.15) and sophomore Rachel Sanford placing fourth (5:29.18).

Senior Olga Cronin and Paul are Western’s one-two punches as they maintain to dominate in the 3,000-meter run, placing first and second, respectively. Cronin’s time was 10:02.55, which is the best time in the event so far, and Paul’s time was 10:26.20.

Junior Enda Grandfield recovered from his stress fracture and ran his first 3,000 of the season. He placed second overall with a time of 8:42.48.

Alongside Grandfield in the 3,000 was teammate David Altmaier, who placed fifth overall in the event.

“He went out very hard and held on real well,” Long said. “I am pleased with the progress he’s making considering he missed the entire cross country season.”

Sprinter Brad Eickhoff had a breakthrough performance as well, coming off three personal bests in the mile relay, 55-meter dash (6.57), and the 200-meter dash (21.95).

Long isn’t only pleased with the track performers, but is also enjoying the assistance of throwing coach Jeremy Camron, sprinters coach Erik Jenkins and distance coach Michelle Scott.

“The staff is doing a great job,” Long said. “Track is diverse, and without the quality help from different coaches, we wouldn’t be a team.”

Western will travel to Bloomington, Ind., to compete at the Indiana Invitational. The meet begins at 4 p.m. on Friday and will continue on Saturday.

Reach Amber North at [email protected]