Westmont Men’s and Women’s Track and Field was back in action on Saturday for the Sunshine Invitational, where they once again hosted the event. The Sunshine Invitational’s name has prompted the club to laugh in years past because the event regularly takes place on rainy days in February.
In this case however, the meet’s name represented the Santa Barbara conditions in a justifiable manner, as the temperature reached as high as 84 degrees without a cloud in the sky above Thorrington Field at the Montecito campus.
The first Warrior to shine was Simeon Michelson, who set a new personal record in the 3000 meter race walk with a time of 17:59.56. While the time did not reach automatic or provisional standards, Michelson’s time is one of the 16-best in the NAIA this season, meaning he has a chance to compete at Indoor Nationals.
“I was mostly focused on improving my technique today, after being disqualified last time,” explained Michelson. “I really wanted to set a new PR at the mile mark, which I was able to do, and that is probably where I trimmed off the bulk of my time.”
Michelson will compete in the race walk once more before the nationals’ qualifiers are set, when the Warriors compete in the Soka Indoor Invitational next Saturday. In order to qualify via provisional standard, Michelson will have to remain in the top-16 best times.
Currently, Michelson has a half-second lead for the 16th-best slot.
The next Warriors to qualify for Indoor Nationals were both the Men’s and Women’s 4000 meter Distance Medley Relay teams, who posted automatic qualifying times.
The men’s team, which featured Zola Sokhela, Adam King, Dylan Lambert, and Jack Vanden Heuvel, completed the event in 10:11.40. The men’s mark was well ahead of the NAIA A-Standard of 10:15.62.
The women’s team that consisted of Anneline Breytenbach, Abigail Hundley, Kari Anema, and Sienna Keck, finished the relay in 12:19.50.
“So far this season, we’d only done our individual events, so it was really fun to get to do a relay together,” noted Breytenbach. “From training together, to getting to compete together today, there was so much energy to feed off of.”
Another Warrior to earn a national qualifying mark was Abby Rumohr, who reached the provisional standard in women’s pole vault when she cleared 3.42 meters.
Abigail Hundley was the next Warrior to reach the B-Standard, when she completed the mile in 5:12.73.
The highlight of the day was when a quartet of Warriors made headlines in the men’s 1000 meter run. Sokhela, Vanden Heuvel, King, and Jason Peterson all earned automatic qualification into indoor nationals. Not only that, but each of the four men came in ahead of the previous Westmont record, a time of 2:28.94.
Sokhela, who now holds the school record in the 1000, led the pack with a time of 2:25.74. Then, Vanden Heuvel crossed the finish line with a time of 2:27.90, and King finished in 2:27.91. Peterson capped off the legendary showing for the Warriors with a time of 2:28.07.
The final national qualifiers of the day for the Warriors were Breytenbach and Anema, who followed up their DMR performance by earning B-Standard times in the 3000 meter run. The teammates came in neck-and-neck with times of 10:22.30 and 10:22.31.
Next Saturday’s Soka Invitational will be the final opportunity for members of the team to qualify for Indoor Nationals. The NAIA Indoor National Championships begin on March 3 in Brookings, South Dakota.
Jacob Norling is the sports information assistant at Westmont College.