Flock of Duhawks earn All-Conference track honors
Despite fighting injuries in this indoor season, the Duhawks competed strongly in the Iowa Conference meet at Wartburg College this weekend. The men’s and women’s teams finished in fourth place as a whole, earning 91 points and 93 points respectively.
Still, the Duhawks couldn’t help but cheer when the final event, the men’s 4×400-meter relay was over, and they won the race! Leading off the relay was Junior Stedman Foster. After holding the Duhawks in fourth place during his leg, Foster handed it off to sophomore Brandon Gradoville, who held the team in fourth. Gradoville passed the baton to Senior Zac Gassman who proceeded to run the fastest leg of the relay at a 49.466. Gassman launched the Duhawks into second place with his performance and gave the baton to the final leg, Junior Zach Frey. He ended up passing Wartburg College’s Daniel Bonthius, who suffered an injury in the first 50 meters of his 400. With that, Frey took the lead with Buena Vista’s Brenna Dostal right on his tail. Frey moved with around 200 meters to go leaving Buena Vista in the dust and bringing the Duhawks in for the win with a time of 3:22.84. He had a few comments on the 4×400-relay.
“The 4×4 was an electric race,” he said. The Duhawks’ cheer crew exploded as they saw Frey take the lead. “The crowd was phenomenal, and I could really feel the energy and adrenaline course through me as I ran. It was a great feeling to share the relay championship with my teammates.”
Frey also competed in the 800-meter run at Conference. There, he placed second and earned All-Conference honors along with several of his other teammates. He ran another indoor personal record of 1:53.60. With Nationals only two weeks away, Frey understands the importance of every step he makes on the track. “Right now, I’m right on the bubble of making it to Nationals, so the last chance meet will be critical. [The 800 this weekend] was a great test, but ultimately I came up short of my goal of winning.” But he’s not giving up yet. “I know I still have more in the tank and will go faster this week at the last chance [meet].”
There were a number of athletes on the men’s track team that earned All-Conference honors for their event. To earn All-Conference, one must place within the top three of his or her event. Among them, senior Kyle Ward set a lifetime personal record in the 60 meter dash at 7.01 seconds earning a second place finish. The 4×200-meter relay consisting of Gassman, Gradoville, Foster and Ward ran a time of 1:31.11, which is the fastest this season, finishing third place. The 4×800-meter relay finished second in the event running a time of 8:03.24. This team was made up of sophomore O’Brien Nugent, sophomore Nathan Kimbrell, sophomore Tim Wittman, and junior Matthew Marter. In the field events, junior Devan Kennedy earned third place in pole vault with a height of 4.24 meters, and senior Nathan Maiers placed third in the weight throw with a mark of 16.65.
On the women’s side, sophomore Elizabeth Brandenburg dominated in her events. She took first place in the pole vault clearing a height of 3.66 meters, a personal record for her. She placed second in the 60-meter hurdles running a time of 8.98 seconds in her preliminary heat, then she dropped to 8.89 seconds in the finals. She also earned All-Conference in the 4×200-meter relay along with Junior Bree Powers, sophomore Alexis Hanson, and first-year Alyssa Simon. Junior Maggie Saenz-Ruiz, running her first race of indoors this year due to an injury that carried over from her cross country season, took third place in the 5,000 meter run with a time of 18:37.53.
On the field, senior Shay Coleman placed second overall in triple jump with a jump of 10.91 meters. Senior Morgan Steere also took second place in the shot put with a throw of 13.00 meters.
A few Duhawks will be competing in last chance meets to qualify for Nationals. These include Zach Frey, Elizabeth Brandenburg, and Morgan Steere.