Track and field team prepares for sole home meet

Alex Nye

The Wildcat track and field team continues its indoor season Saturday, Jan. 31, hosting the Northern Challenge at the Superior Dome.

The ’Cats recently competed at Saginaw Valley State University Friday, Jan. 23 at the Doug Hansen Open in Saginaw, Mich. NMU took three of the top four spots in the 3,000 meter run while sophomore Samanthia Johnson lead the way in field events.

Johnson’s weight throw of 15.59m earned her a first place finish.

Johnson is only in her second year with the team and is happy with her results but is also working on improving.

“I owe it to training hard, being dedicated and being passionate about my events,” Johnson said.

Johnson is not the only underclassman enjoying success on the track.

Freshman Kameron Burmeister won the women’s 3,000 meter run with a time of 10:28.63, setting the SVSU Fieldhouse record.

A pair of seniors also shared success in the women’s 3,000 meter run.

Seniors Larissa Halonen and Olivia Howard finished second and fourth overall.

Howard is in her fourth year with the team and is excited about the early success of the season.

“We are off to a really good start. We’ve definitely picked up where we left off last season, which is great to see,” Howard said. “Everyone’s coming in really strong. People definitely did their training over break.”

NMU head coach Jenny Ryan enters her first year as head coach of the track and field team with seven years of experience coaching the cross country team.

Ryan said the ’Cats are off to a good start.

“I feel the season is going well so far,” Ryan said. “We had a good first meet with some respectable early season times and marks.  We are ahead of where we were last year in many events.”

The Northern Challenge will be the only home meet for the ‘Cats.

Ryan said the program is heading in the right direction.

“The team is fairly young and we are rebuilding to become a top team in the GLIAC,” Ryan said.  “We have a great group of young women focused on our goals and our success as a team.”

Howard said the program is the strongest she’s seen since her arrival at NMU.

“We definitely have had really good recruiting over the last few years,” Howard said. “We are now recruiting freshmen about at the level seniors were at my freshman year.”

The team has also been recruiting outside of the U.S. with three international students on the team.

Johnson and sophomore Avadon James are from Jamaica, and freshman Ine Mylle is from Belgium.

The Wildcats did not host a track meet last year and are excited for the opportunity this year.

“Not traveling is great, sleeping in your own bed and eating your normal meals, it is a comfort thing,” Howard said. “There is going to be so much talent and events to watch. We love having people at the meet. It really encourages us.”

The Northern Challenge will begin at 12:30 p.m. for field events and 1 p.m. for running events Saturday, Jan. 31, at the Superior Dome.

A small ceremony will take place before the meet to honor the senior athletes.