The Northern Michigan track and field team traveled to Wisconsin on Saturday to compete in the Oshkosh Invitational, placing second overall and trailing first by only two points.
The Wildcats scored 235 team points with 11 athletes finishing first in their events. University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh finished in first place, scoring 237 points. The meet marked the first outdoor competition in which all of the team performed.
Going into the meet, head coach Tom Barnes said the talent of the team had reached its peak and he was predicting great performances, no matter what the weather brought.
“We are definitely going to see some really good times,” Barnes said. “The biggest thing is being tied to the weather; it’s a smaller meet, so it will be really good for us.”
The ’Cats started placing high early in the meet with junior Mallory Celaya winning the 5000-meter run. Celaya broke a school record in the event, running a time of 18:23.44. Three other NMU athletes placed in the top five for the event, with junior Rita Woitas finishing third, sophomore Chelsea Farquhar in fourth and junior Brittany Loomis in fifth.
At the pole vault, sophomore Jaime Roberts came in first place with a 12 foot jump. At the high jump, senior Bailey Franklin took the event home with a 5- foot, 4.25-inch jump, with senior Melissa Christensen placing third.
At the javelin throw, junior Mariah Beaman finished in first place with a 100-foot, 1-inch throw. Sophomore Katie Searles took second and sophomore Shannon McNabb placed third.
While javelin is her most competitive event, Beaman said the event is very technical and is ready to kick it up a notch with some good competition and good coaching.
“Without my coach, Andy, I wouldn’t be where I am right now,” Beaman said. “He’s taught me everything, along with so much about feeling my way through the positions of the javelin throw and the release. I’m ready to put myself and the team in better focus of the goals we’re striving towards.”
The team continued placing first when senior Catherine Angeli finished first in both the 100 and 200-meter dashes.
Freshman Angelina Howard placed second in the 100, and redshirt freshman Sherice Hewett placed third in the 200. Hewett placed first in the 100-meter hurdles, with Christensen in second.
In the 800-meter run, senior Rachael Williams placed first with seven other ’Cats placing in the top nine.
Sophomores Katie Granquist and Alicia Romana placed second and third, freshman Caitlin Keskey finished fourth, sophomore Kristina Mattson in fifth, freshman Abby Roche in sixth, junior Kristina Donley in eighth and freshman Kailey Sickmiller in ninth place.
Williams said the race was intense for her teammates and herself, providing competition and determination for them as they raced for high places.
“It was intimidating having all of my teammates right behind me,” Williams said. “Those girls train so hard and are so determined that I was scared they were going to catch me, but at the same time I wanted to see them succeed, too. I am really proud of everyone.”
The ’Cats 4×100 relay team placed first with Howard, Angeli, Hewett and sophomore Samara White running in the event. In the 1500-meter run, junior Nora Kiilunen placed first and freshman Larissa Halonen placed second. In the 3000-meter run, freshman Olivia Howard finished in second place with freshman Emily Allen in third.
The Wildcats’ next meet will be on Thursday, March 5 at the St. Norbert Invite in De Pere, Wis.
Williams said it was good for the team to be back together again and is proud of everyone as she continues into her final year in track and field.
“It was nice being with all of the girls again and watching everyone compete,” Williams said. “We work so hard almost every day and it is truly paying off. I love these girls so much and I am going to be really sad when I have to leave, but I am excited to try and finish my last season on a high note.”