Runners prepare for outdoor meets

Georgette Breen-Naylor

Several members of the Northern Michigan University women’s track and field team will be starting their outdoor season on Friday, March 28 in Raleigh, N.C. The Wildcats will begin their outdoor action as they wind down their indoor season with two athletes earning All-American honors from the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

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Anthony Viola/NW
Junior Abby Roche, left, was named to the GLIAC all-academic excellence team in the outdoor season last year. Freshman Shannon Flynn will compete in her first season at Northern Michigan University

Junior Christina Toogood and senior Cheyenne Stewart were both able to compete and perform at the level to finish in the top eight at the NCAA Championships held in Winston-Salem, N.C., on Friday, March 14 and Saturday, March 15. Toogood came in seventh place in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:11.89.

Stewart placed eighth in the triple jump to break a new school record with a jump of 40-7. Stewart also set a personal best with the jump. While track season has 12 meets total between indoor and outdoor, both have their own GLIAC Championships and both have NCAA Championships.

The only difference between the two seasons is that one part of the season is held indoors and the second half is outdoors. Junior Olivia Howard said some of the differences between indoor and outdoor  are the track size and weather.

“The weather certainly plays a huge role in outdoor,” Howard said. “Running on a 400-meter track in outdoor is better for racing than being on a 200- or 300- meter track.”Chereé Hicks is entering her second season as head coach with the Wildcats.

Looking ahead to the Wildcats’ future meets, they will compete against teams in Kentucky, Wisconsin, Michigan and North Carolina. The ’Cats will compete in the Al Owens Classic on Sunday, April 20 before competing in the GLIAC Championship.

Last season, the Wildcats finished in 10th place in the GLIAC Indoor Championships and came in 12th place last season at the GLIAC Outdoor Championships. Last season the Wildcats opened in Oshkosh, Wis. The ’Cats came in third place at the meet, finishing behind the host Titans and Winona State University out of Minnesota.One of the events that the Wildcats excelled at was the 5,000-meter. The ’Cats had six athletes place in the top ten.

Then-sophomore Brittni Wirtz won the 100-meter dash and placed second in the 200-meter dash. The ’Cats had several other runners place in the top 10 for the 200-meter, including freshman Avadon James. Wirtz said the races are different between indoor and outdoor.“For me, it is the 100 instead of the 60,” Wirtz said. “The track is a 400 track instead of 200 so it’s not as sharp of a turn so that’s better for us.”

Stewart also placed in two separate events at last year’s opening outdoor meet with a third place finish in long jump and a fourth place finish in the triple jump. Some of the other teams competing at the event were Michigan Tech, Lawrence University and Ripon College.

The Wildcats were supposed to have their first outdoor meet in De Pere, Wis., on Thursday, March 27, but it is canceled.Several Wildcats will travel south to Raleigh, N.C. for a relays meet on Friday, March 28 and Saturday, March 29.Wirtz said in order to be ready for the meet in North Carolina they will need to continue to prepare by working hard.“(We need to) just work hard each day at practice,” Wirtz said. “(We need to) get back into competition mode.”