By Heather Seppanen
Four school records were set last weekend when the NMU women’s track and field team traveled to Stevens Point, Wis. to compete in the Pointer Invitational.
Senior Bailey Franklin took first in the pentathlon with a new school record of 3,339 points. Junior Brooke Granquist (3,064) took third and senior Melissa Christensen (3,050) took fourth.
Franklin set a new school record and also automatically qualified for nationals with a 1.76 meter high jump, which ties her for second in the country. Head coach Tom Barnes expects her to make a provisional mark in the triple jump as well.
Senior Catherine Angeli set the school’s 200-meter dash record at 25.26 a provisional mark for nationals and is ranked 11th in the country.
NMU freshman Angelina Howard set a third record in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.75 and got a provisional mark. NMU is now ranked 17th nationally.
“I’m really excited about high jump,” Franklin said. “I’ve been working hard in practice and I knew I could do it. I guess everything came together this weekend.”
Franklin said she was hoping for a better score in the pentathlon, only beating her previous score by four points. Franklin had teammates competing with her and said she worked harder knowing she had her teammates to push through the five events with her.
“I wanted to do well for my team.” Franklin said. “I had five other girls in the pentathlon with me, which is a ridiculous number. It was great to compete all day with them.”
Barnes said he likes how the team supports each other.
“They pull for each other, they’re really nice teammates,” Barnes said. I’m really proud of that, it makes it easy to be a good coach.”
Also winning events were sophomore Jaime Roberts, who took first in the pole vault with 3.68 meters, is ranked seventh. Redshirt freshman Sherice Hewett, who won the triple jump with 11.45 meters, is also ranked seventh. Franklin followed Hewett to take third with 11.23 meters.
“We didn’t train as hard so we would have better times,” Franklin said. “I’m really impressed with our team and how everyone did this weekend.”
Out of 13 schools attending the invitational meet, NMU tied for second with UW-Eau Claire with 100 points each, just below first place Winona State with 141 points. The Wildcats have moved from being ranked No. 21 in the nation to No.17 in the U.S.
“There are about 300 teams in division II, that’s pretty good.” Barnes said. “That ties the highest ranking we’ve ever had. We’re trying to get as many people to nationals as we can.”
Other athletes who placed include senior Rachael Williams who took third in the 800-meter run (2:24.11), freshman Larissa Halonen placed second in the mile (5:17.80), junior Mallory Celaya placed third in the 3000-meter run (10:47.85) and Hewett placed third in the 60-meter hurdles (9.11). Angeli, Christensen, Hewett and junior Colby West took second in the 4×400 relay (4:07.80).
“It’s basically dedication, hard work, good attitudes, confidence and our first goal for our team is kindness.” Barnes said. “I have a word every year and this year it’s unity.”
Franklin took first in the pentathlon 60-meter hurdles (9.36), Christensen followed in second (9.46) and Granquist in third (9.80).
Granquist took second (1.61 meters) behind Franklin in the high jump pentathlon. Franklin placed first in the long jump pentathlon (5.28 meters) with Christensen in second (5.24 meters) and sophomore Katie Searles third (4.94 meters).
Junior Mariah Beaman took third in the shot put pentathlon (10.10 meters) with Searles in fourth (9.97 meters).
“It all goes back to practice,” Franklin said. “I really think it matters who you practice with.”
The ’Cats track and field team currently has six national qualifiers, whether provisional or automatic, with three meets remaining to qualify.
“It’s exciting to have so many people right there getting closer to nationals,” Franklin said.
Barnes credits his teams achivements with his athletes morals.
“I really attribute our success to being good people.” Barnes said. “I think you need to be a good person to be a good athlete.”
On Friday, Feb. 10 NMU travles to Grand Valley. All six of NMU’s national qualifiers will be competing against all divisions from across the country. The open meet will be on Saturday.
“Were looking for more great performances,” Barnes said. “More school records and improvements on provisional marks and new provisional marks.”