Track opens outdoor season in style

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The NMU track and field team competed in its first outdoor meet of the spring season this past weekend, setting three school records.

NMU finished fourth overall in the meet, held in Oshkosh, Wis.

Head coach Tom Barnes said he was pleased with the results when he compared them to last year’s first outdoor meet.

“I thought we did really well. Our times were good. We were a little faster than last year’s opening meet, and we are right on track,” he said.

Sophomore Kristen Schulz won the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 11:56.72. Junior Krista Squiers set the third NMU record of the day in the hammer throw with a 147-00 effort which was good for eighth place. Senior Paris Malin set a new NMU mark in the pole vault by placing fourth by clearing the bar at a height of 10-11.75.

“We broke some school records this past weekend, and I think we are going to break few more school records yet,” Barnes said.

Other top point-earners for the ‘Cats were senior Natalie Bertucci with a third-place showing with a time of 16.00 in the 100 hurdles, and in the same event senior Leslie Luehmann placed sixth and freshman Melissa Christensen took seventh.

The javelin had three ‘Cats in the top seven as well, with sophomore Angie Leckson in second, followed by Malin in fifth and Squiers in seventh.

Barnes said the team made the transition from inside to outside seamlessly. He said the training in the Superior Dome has been really productive.

“This building is so awesome because it is so big. I think we get more productive practices in here than we would if we worked outside in the cold,” he said. “Now if we lived in California or something it would be a different story.”

Barnes added the team does have an agreement to train on Marquette Senior High School’s track when weather permits.

“I think if we could train outside all the time that would be ideal, but of course we live here in Marquette,” he said.

The track team will have a break in competition this week and will not compete as a team until the Bulldog Open on April 18 at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

Barnes said this is an important meet because it will be a shorter travel distance and will be against teams the Wildcats haven’t had a chance to face this season.

“It is good we have this weekend off, so we can keep training. We are not facing too many GLIAC teams right now, but we will face them when we get to that point,” Barnes said.

Also on tap for the track team is a heptathlon competition at Northwood University on April 15. NMU will send freshmen Bailey Franklin, Christensen and senior Luehmann.

Barnes said it will be good for these athletes to get the experience in these events before the GLIAC league meet at the end of the semester.

“They’ll be able to transfer over to (the outdoor season) pretty easily, but just to get over and (compete in the heptathlon) once before the GLIACs it is going to help them tremendously,” he said.