Women’s track and field ends strong

John Becker

The NMU women’s outdoor track and field team finished the season strong last weekend at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships after matching its best GLIAC finish in early May.

NMU head coach Tom Barnes said the GLIAC finish shows that athletes peaked their training at the right time.

“We set six new records for the season and all of them came at the end of the year, that’s what you want,” Barnes said.

The GLIAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships took place May 5-7, with the Wildcats finishing in fourth place as a team, which Barnes said tied the team’s highest finish at the outdoor GLIACs.

Sophomore Bailey Franklin earned first place in the triple jump with a leap of 11.2m. Franklin also set a new NMU record in the high jump with a leap of 5-06.

Senior Krista Squiers earned eighth place in the hammer throw with a toss of 160-04 and took second place in the javelin with a throw of 120-11.

Sophomore Catherine Angeli earned fourth place and set new NMU records in the 100-meter dash (12.77 seconds) and the 200-meter dash (26.36 seconds).

Junior Kristen Schulz came in ninth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase but set an NMU record with a time of 12:17.4

The 4×100 relay team comprised of Angeli, freshman Alyssa Erspamer, junior Brittnee Balbierz and sophomore Melissa Christensen placed third but broke the NMU record with a time of 49.33 seconds.

Barnes said the weather during the GLIAC competition was bad, but that May 7 was particularly poor conditions for track and field.

“The last day of the GLIACs was terrible weather, rainy and cold. They still did well. They stepped up and maintained their places,” Barnes said.

The NCAA championships took place May 27-29, with senior thrower Krista Squiers representing NMU on Thursday, May 27. Squiers originally seeded at 17th in the hammer throw, but finished stronger than projected. Squiers hurled the hammer for a combined total of 170-11, which earned her 11th place. Barnes said Squiers’ throw was the second-best of her career, just behind her NMU record of 171-06.

Barnes also said the ’Cats have made multiple appearances at the NCAA competition, but they usually only have one athlete qualify.

“We’ve been there seven times in seven years, but this was the first time we had two athletes,” Barnes said.

It was sophomore Bailey Franklin’s first time at the NCAA competition, and she said she had a little anxiety about competing at a new level of difficulty.

“I was really nervous, but I was also happy to be there and happy to qualify for something that big,” Franklin said.

Franklin competed in the high jump on Saturday, May 29, and was seeded 11th. Franklin leapt 5-05.75, which landed her in 13th. Barnes said the height of Franklin’s jump tied her for 9th, but the tiebreaker is based on how many attempts it took to achieve each height. Franklin was one of three sophomores ranked in the top 15.

Barnes said he’s expecting multiple athletes to qualify for the NCAA competition next year, and that the team will become stronger over the next couple years.

“Our team is pretty young; we have about seven sophomores and they’re all pretty darn good. They’ll be juniors next year, and we’re going to have only one or two seniors,” he said.