Men’s track places fifth at MWC championships

Alex York

(Curran Carlile)

In a continuation of a trend that has been building all season, not only did the Lawrence Track and Field team get support from the upperclassmen, but also from a handful of standout underclassmen who propelled the team even higher in the standings than in recent memory. At the Midwest Athletic Conference Championships at St. Norbert’s Schneider Stadium last Friday and Saturday, the Viking men snagged a sixth place team finish and the women grabbed seventh. Scoring the highest as a team since 2005, the Viking men were propelled by a wide range of strong finishes in everything from the distance events to the throwing events. Several strong finishes from their standout athletes fueled the women.

On the men’s side, the throwing and distance events combined for most of the points. Senior Nick Kerkman shattered his own record in the hammer throw by almost four feet, tossing 157 feet 4 inches. The throw was good enough for fourth place overall. Freshman Nick Craker took fifth in both the discus and the shot with his throws of 134 feet 3 inches and 43 feet 7 inches.

Junior Sam Stevens picked up his fourth career conference championship when he won the 1500m run on Friday. His time of 3:59.36 was a heartbreaking two-hundredths of a second away from the school record. After finding that out Stevens recalled that he was “a bit disappointed, but coming away with the win, I can’t complain.” Stevens competed in a total of four events over the two-day stretch, and by the fourth event, the 3000m steeplechase — an event he was the favorite in — he was heavily fatigued and managed only to hang on for third with a time of 9:27. “The steeple[chase] in a unique race, where there are lots of things that can go wrong,” remarked Stevens. “I definitely did not have my best race there.” Stevens will compete this weekend at North Central College this Friday where he will have one last shot at qualifying for nationals.

Sophomore Curran Carlile had a big weekend himself, taking second place in the two longest distance events, the 5000m run and 10000m run. His times were 15:28 and 33:19 respectively.

Anna Bolgrien grabbed her first of what will hopefully be many conference victories in the 400m hurdles. The freshman from Duluth, Minn. finished in 1:05.60 beating the competition by more than a second and also coming heartbreakingly close to breaking the current school record of 1:05.52. “Bolgrien really jumps out at you as being a conference champion as a freshman,” noted Head Coach Jason Fast, “Our conference doesn’t have too many of those so it was an impressive feat.” He continued, “We know that even better accomplishments will be in store for her next year, and we expect her to be competing on the National level.”

Junior Rose Tepper and Senior Emily Muhs also tacked on points for the women’s team taking third in the high jump and fifth in the 10,000m run respectively. Tepper’s jump was a huge personal best.

Coach Fast was happy at the end of the competition: “After seeing us compete the last few weeks, I am not surprised at all by the people who stepped up as they are the same people who have made great improvements over the whole season.”

This being the final collegiate track meet for many of the seniors, Fast also took time to salute their contributions: “They are an amazing group of people who’s leadership and personalities will be missed by everyone.”