A trio of Warriors for Westmont Men’s and Women’s Track and Field pushed themselves to the limit this week in Gulf Shores, Alabama where the club is competing in the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships.
A pair of Westmont athletes competed in the 10,000 meter run on Thursday night, while another took part in the daunting half-marathon on Friday morning.
For Westmont, the performance of senior Abigail Stadtlander in the half-marathon was the highlight of the long distance races. Given the difficulty of the race in any conditions, the race is annually scheduled for an early start in order to avoid the day’s peak heat.
However, even at 6:00 a.m. CDT, when the half-marathon began, the temperature was pushing 80 degrees Fahrenheit with 75% humidity. In her final race as a Westmont Warrior, Stadtlander battled through the conditions and finished the half-marathon in one hour, 31 minutes, and 10 seconds. Once the senior crossed the finish line, she slowly took a tumble and a moment on the ground to catch her breath while being checked on by athletic trainers.
Then, after a brief moment, the club’s golden eagle recipient walked off under her own power, and into the arms of her family and friends in attendance.
“She ran really well,” said Coach Lindsey Connolly. “She put herself in a really good position, ran really smart and just gave it her all. She did awesome and we are all so proud of her.”
“We are so proud of her,” echoed Coach Chris Hanessian. “She has worked so hard and it’s so great to get to see her race and race well at nationals. She really deserves this. When she got on her feet and got to us I just gave her the biggest hug, and she was really sweaty, but I couldn’t help it.”
The night before Stadtlander’s gutsy performance, Westmont’s Anneline Breytenbach took part in the women’s 10,000 meter run. Ultimately, a hard-fought race for Breytenbach ended in frustration when the sophomore lost track of how many laps she had left in her race.
With the race officials hollering at Breytenbach to let her know that she was not yet finished, Breytenbach completed her penultimate lap, veered onto the infield, and began the always-exhausting moment of mental shutdown.
After leaving it all out on the track and beginning to catch her breath, Breytenbach eventually caught wind of the fact that her race was not yet complete. After an emotional moment, a heart-broken Breytenbach stepped back on the track and jogged one final lap to complete the race in 38:09.77.
Breytenbach, who was on the brink of All-American honors before coming to a premature halt, finished the race in 14th place.
On the men’s side, junior Garrett Miller also competed in the 10,000 meter run. In the final event of day two, Miller completed the race in 33:44.18, which placed him in 28th place.
Jacob Norling is the sports information assistant at Westmont College.