Track and field finds stride over weekend

By Rhema Rhea

Track and field delivered on high expectations with multiple personal bests, nine event titles and multiple qualifiers for the MAC Outdoor Championships.

The Huskies started their weekend at the Mt. SAC Relays Friday in Walnut, Calif. Saturday, they competed at the Blue Demon Invitational in Chicago, while the middle distance runners were at the Beach Invitational in Norwalk, Calif.

“I think this weekend the ladies really stepped up and competed,” said head coach Connie Teaberry. “I think that every weekend makes a difference in the times and the marks and the confidence.

“… The girls really stepped up and competed this weekend. We are definitely headed in the right direction in getting ready for the MAC Championship.”

At the Blue Demon Invitational, freshman Claudette Day’s jumps of 5-10.00 set a program record in the high jump, finishing in first out of seven. The leap knocked off the school record of 5-08.75 set in 2007 by Jessica Statler. Day will head to Athens, Ohio, in May for the conference championships.

Day also placed first out of six finalists in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 14.84, and she finished second in the long jump at 17-09.75.

For the second time during the outdoor season, freshman A’Iesha Irvin-Muhammad took top honors out of seven in the 100-meter dash when she ran a 12.08 in the event. Irvin-Muhammad also took first out of 11 in the 200 meters with a 24.66.

Freshman sprinters Tahtyana Peer and Alexandria Isom took second and third with times of 24.83 and 25.27, respectively, to help NIU claim the top three spots in the event.

Junior Latesha Bigby received top honors in the 400-meter dash with her run of 56.05.

In the 800 meters, Rebecca Cronin finished in first, timing in at 2:12.66.

Friday at the 56th annual Mt. SAC Relays, the middle distance runners had two athletes qualify for the conference meet in the 1,500 meters.

Junior Meghan Heuer and sophomore Ali Olson punched their tickets to the MAC Championships. Heuer finished 43rd out of 130th in the field. Heuer and Olson posted 4:29.78 and 4:30.98 in the event, respectively.

At Saturday’s Beach Invitational, Olson bested her position in the MAC performance list with a personal-best run in the 3,000 steeplechase, clocking in at 10:42.07.

“As the outdoor season goes on, you want to continue to see the girls improving their marks and their times, which kind of helps us as coaches   — letting us know we are moving in the right direction with the workouts and the training that we are doing — that the girls continue to drop times and get stronger, faster and [start] to tighten up their technique a bit more,” Teaberry said. “It’s definitely a booster for the athletes and the coaching staff, as well.”