The SVSU men’s and women’s track and field teams opened their seasons this past weekend at a home meet, the SVSU Holiday Open. The season’s inaugural competition featured several first-place finishers along with a broken program record.
En route to a women’s heptathlon win, junior Lauren Huebner also broke the SVSU program record for the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.70 seconds. That time broke the school’s previous record of 8.84 seconds, set by Leighann Dowell in 2007.
Huebner said she broke program records in high school, and breaking them in college has been very rewarding as well. She also holds the pentathlon overall record at SVSU, a mark she set at last year’s GLIAC Championships.
“I was very excited and actually surprised to break the record in the 60-meter hurdles,” she said. “We have been training hurdles pretty hard this year, so it was great to see the results of all that hard work. I work so hard, and my coaches put in so much time to help us prepare to be great, so it is very exciting to be able to perform when it comes to meet day.”
Huebner’s hurdle time puts her at No. 2 in the country for Division II. Her overall pentathlon score puts her in third.
In addition to the 60-meter hurdles, she also won the 800-meter run portion of the heptathlon. Top-five finishes in the heptathlon’s other three events earned her the overall win.
“The pentathlon overall went well, but I definitely see room for improvement in my field events especially,” Huebner said. “It was a pretty successful weekend, but I can’t wait to see what is still to come.”
Other winners for the Cardinals included senior Dominique Adams, who placed first in the women’s 1-mile run. Junior Kinzie Sikkema was right behind her in second place.
“(Adams) had a really tough fall season and was battling injuries and unfortunately missed cross country and has been able to battle back,” associate head track and field coach Jason Hartmann said. “She’s someone I look forward to really having a breakout year in the indoor and outdoor seasons.”
The Cardinal women’s 4×400 relay team also took the event’s top spot with a finals time of 3:59.23. The team consisted of freshman Kelsey Landra, senior Andriana Higgins, freshman Alona Olshevska and freshman Jordan Harvey.
On the men’s side, senior Ryan Kelly won the shotput with a final-round throw of 17.30 meters.
Other strong finishes for SVSU included freshman Maegan Noble’s 12th-place finish in the women’s 60-meter dash and Olshevska’s fourth-place finish in the 200-meter dash. Junior Samantha Warren and Harvey both posted top-20 finishes in the 200 as well.
Joining Adams and Sikkema in the 1-mile run was junior Rebecca Estep, who finished ninth with a final round time of 5:36.42.
In the women’s long jump, SVSU sophomore Donna Jean Eschenbacher placed third with a jump of 5.31 meters. Another field event, the women’s shot put, featured a second-place finish from freshman Alicia Aldrich. Aldrich also placed third in the women’s weight throw.
For the men’s team, junior Travon Phillips earned a fifth-place finish in the 60-meter dash with a finals time of 6.98 seconds. In the men’s 200-meter dash, junior Juan Bowers placed seventh. Junior Carter Eckhardt also added a seventh-place finish in the men’s 400-meter dash.
Also on the men’s side, senior Keith Rodriguez had a strong third-place finish in the 600-meter run, with a final round time of 1:23.83. Freshman Owen Howard added a second-place finish in the 5,000-meter run. The men’s 4×400 relay team of Rodriguez, Bowers, Eckhardt and freshman Billy Kolcan placed third.
“Overall, on both sides of the coin, I think they’re improved, and it shows a lot of the work that they’ve done in the fall,” Hartmann said. “They really just catapulted and were able to show what their fitness was. It hopefully built a lot of momentum going toward winter and after the new year.”
The Cardinals will return to action in January at another SVSU-hosted meet, the SVSU Classic. The meet takes place on Friday, Jan. 11, at 2:30 p.m.
Reporting by Connor Doyle, Reporter