GULF SHORES, Ala. — The Westmont men’s and women’s track and field teams began competition in the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships Wednesday in Gulf Shores, Ala.
At day’s end, a trio of races for the Warriors were postponed due to an ensuing lightning storm. Before the postponement, however, the Warriors got things off and rolling.
In the morning, sophomore Lily Sween was the catalyst for Westmont when she competed in the first leg of the women’s heptathlon, the 100 meter hurdles. Sween, who has been rehabilitating an injury for the past few weeks, opened the day with a time of 15.58 in the 100 meter hurdles, which was just two-hundredths shy of her season-best mark.
In the next event, the high jump, Sween cleared a high of 1.64m (5-4.50), which was the third-best mark of the event. Then in the shot put, Sween’s best attempt went 10.30m (33-9.50), which was the sixth-best mark amongst competitors.
Sween’s day came to a close in the 200 meter dash after she posted a time of 27.06, which was less than two-tenths off a season-best mark. As of Wednesday, Sween was in 10th place with 2,806 points. In order to achieve All-American status, Sween would need to finish in eighth or higher.
With the long jump, javelin, and 800 meter run scheduled for tomorrow, Sween was 21 points shy of eighth place on Wednesday.
“It was amazing how she kept her head about her in every event,” said Head Coach Russell Smelley. “She did more than just compete; she ran pretty close to her best. I thought she was remarkable.”
The next three Warriors to compete all experienced mixed results, with none of the three finishing near the top of the leaderboard. First, in the prelims of the women’s 1500 meter run, freshman Abigail Hundley posted a time of 4:56.19. Hundley finished 19th in the event and was unable to reach the finals.
In the women’s pole vault, sophomore Abby Rumohr cleared 3.45m (11-3.75) on her second attempt to begin competition. Unfortunately for Rumohr and the Warriors, it was the only clearance for the sophomore who was unable to sneak past 3.55m (11-7.75). Rumohr finished the pole vault in 13th place.
On the men’s side, redshirt sophomore Adam King was the first Warrior to see competition when he ran in the first heat of the 1500 meter run. King posted a time of 3:58.75, which placed him 16th out of 24 competitors.
In the second heat of the 1500, sophomore Zola Sokhela became the first Warrior to advance at Outdoor Nationals when he posted a time of 3:54.61. Sokhela, who is the reigning Outdoor National champion in the event, posted the fastest preliminary time of the race.
“I didn’t want to lead the race,” said Sokhela, who never truly kicked it into gear despite winning the race. “The goal was to do just enough to get into the final, so I stayed tucked in, made a move, and kept it plain and simple.”
Sokhela is scheduled to defend his national title in the 1500 at 3:10 p.m. Central time (1:10 p.m. Pacific) today.
Jacob Norling is the sports information assistant at Westmont College.