Feb. 21 and 22 saw the Billiken men’s and women’s track and field teams competing in Rhode Island for the Atlantic 10’s indoor track conference meet. The women’s team placed ninth out of the 13 teams competing, with 39 points, and the men’s team placed eighth out of nine, with 29.
Despite the lackluster team performance, some individuals finished strong. Sophomore Neal Fitzpatrick took third in the 5,000-meter race on Feb. 21 with a time of 14:49.25, in a shocking turn of events. Fitzpatrick was projected to be on the edge of scoring in the race (seventh or eighth place); however, he was able to take advantage of a shift in the pace of the pack in which he was running.
“I felt pretty tired but I saw the chance to score and get top three, so I put the pain behind me and finished as strong as I could,” said Fitzpatrick.
Junior Albert Marban took fourth in the 1,000-meter race on Feb. 22 with a time of 2:31.35. Marban, who had qualified for the finals during a physical preliminary race on Feb. 21, ran with his leg patched up, as he had been previously spiked.
The men’s 4×800-meter relay team placed fourth during its race at 7:49.91. The team, consisting of Marban, freshman Patrick Sheil, junior Ryan Noonan and sophomore Andrew Sloan, was able to pass Fordham after Fordham’s third and fourth leg of the relay dropped the baton during the handoff. The Billikens were able to capitalize
on the mistake.
“Neal Fitzpatrick and our middle-distance runners led the way for our young men’s team. They put together some great races. We are encouraged by the talent of our team and are already looking forward to the outdoor season,” said SLU head coach Jon Bell.
On the women’s side of things, Annika Gomell placed second in the 5,000-meter race and fourth in the 3,000-meter race. Gomell earned second-team All-Conference honors for her 5,000-meter performance with a time of 16:44.99. This placed her over third-place finisher Erin Osment from Davidson by less than a second, while her 3,000-meter performance was only two seconds separated from third place.
Along with Gomell, Jessica Hoefert was also able to score for the Billikens in the 3,000-meter race with a seventh-place finish and a time of 9:58.34.
Another group of athletes that was able to score was the women’s 4×800-meter relay team. The team, consisting of senior Jamee Holmes, senior Madie Alexander, freshman Alex Groene and sophomore Lauren Anderson, took fourth in the race with a time 9:15.08, edging out the University of Massachusetts by one second.
“For our women, our seniors clearly led the way. Jessica, Annika, Isabel, Jamee, and Madie all made significant contributions to our team this weekend. It was a great way for them to end their indoor careers,” said Bell.
Off the track, senior Stephanie Urich took fourth place in the pole vault and fourth in the high jump, with jumps of 3.45 meters and 1.60 meters respectively.
“I am satisfied with our men’s and women’s results this weekend,” said Bell. “As a staff, we knew before the season started we would have challenges this season due to our youth. I feel as if we met a lot of those challenges this season and we are well-positioned to climb up the A-10 standings.”
Billikens track and field is looking forward to the future, as most competing athletes were underclassmen, who received important competitive experience, which should help the future of the program.
SLU’s runners will return to the track for the outdoor season March 20-21 for the Billiken Kickoff.