MORAGA, Calif. - The long-awaited beginning of the spring
track season saw the Saint Mary's men's and women's track teams compete at
two meets over the past two weekends: the Kim Duyst Invitational hosted by Cal
State Stanislaus and the Aggie Open hosted by UC Davis.
The benefits of a mild winter
coupled with ideal training conditions have put the Gaels in a great position
to see improvements across the board. Fortunately, great weather held out
for the beginning of the inaugural track season and the athletes did not disappoint.
For the women, strong middle
distance races have been the headlines in this young season. Sophomore
Alicia Doohan picked up where she left off last spring in the 1500m running
4:52.41 in her first race of the season at Stanislaus. She continued an
impressive day running 2:22.81 for 800m. Redshirt junior Maria Ahlqvist
placed 12th in the same 1500m race running 5:02.04 while sophomore Emma Kroloff
ran 5:15.35 in her first collegiate race. Sophomore Alex Choy ran 5:25.13
placing 22nd overall.
Not to be outdone by her Stanislaus
performance, Doohan followed up the next week at Davis with an impressive
10:37.39 3000m finishing 23rd overall. Choy finished in 11:29.20 while
freshman Cristina Garcia, battling an ankle injury, finished in 11:12.31.
Sophomore Maureen May ran season-bests in two events on both weekends.
She placed 20th overall in the 800m (2:27.22) and 23rd in the 1500m
(5:03.16) at Davis.
Steeplechaser Erin Burke competed
over the barriers at two different race distances. Her 12:36.74 3000m
steeplechase puts her seven seconds behind her own school record for the
event. A week later, she finished a 2000m steeplechase in 7:55.81 at
Davis placing 13th.
Three women competed in back-to-back
5000m races - Elizandra Obando, Jacqueline Danens, and Madison Thompson.
Both Obando and Danens set lifetime PRs at Stanislaus running 19:03.96 and
20:46.81, respectively, while Thompson set a collegiate PR the next week in
21:30.02. Also, the four member 4x400 relay of Alison Beard, Kate Brenot,
Cristina Tognetti, and Michelle Weir ran 5:05.75 placing 7th overall.
The men's side was highlighted by
redshirt sophomore Rajpaul Pannu's 5000m at the Kim Duyst Invitational.
Building off a record setting cross country season, Pannu started strong out
the gates, placing 8th in 14:58.62 slotting himself second all-time in the
Gaels record book.
Not to be outdone, junior Jordan
Lerma and freshmen TJ Brown-Pinizzotto broke the 16-minute barrier racing 15:42
and 15:53, respectively. Other notable 5000m runners setting personal-bests
include Justin Jayme (16:03), Gilbert Mundo (16:09), Chris Garcia (16:12), and
newcomers Andrew Eckberg (16:12.81) and Trevor Araujo (16:15.81).
The men's highlight race at the
Aggie Open was the 3000m where four Gaels raced to PRs. Though not often
contested, Lerma placed 34th in 9:05.28, Mundo was 40th in 9:13.60,
Brown-Pinizzotto was 42nd in 9:20.16, and Jayme finished 46th in 9:32.82.
Also, senior Agustin Cazarez ran back-to-back personal bests in the 800m for
his first two collegiate races, finishing the Aggie Open in 2:10.32.
"That's a great way to start the
season off. The addition of our track program has really energized our
athletes to train harder and race faster than they ever have. It's not a
particularly long season so to start off where we are is a great sign of things
to come," said head coach Marty Kinsey.
The Gaels will return to action on Saturday,
March 24 at the Johnny Mathis Invite hosted by San Francisco State.