Track and Field finish third in first meet of year


Rachel Shoemaker runs cross country during the Huskie Open Nov. 10.

By Rhema Rhea

In its first scoring meet of the indoor season, track and field had solid performances, resulting in a third out of 10 showing at the Illini Classic in Champaign.

The weekend’s meet was won by host University of Illinois with 159 points, and second place was claimed by the University of Memphis, finishing with 93 points.

NIU finished ahead of the other MAC competitor in the meet. Western Michigan took the fourth spot in the final standings with 54 points. The Huskies had athletes step up across the board as they totaled 73.5 points.

Freshmen A’Iesha Irvin-Muhammad and Tahtyana Peer hit the qualifying mark for the indoor MAC championships. Irvin-Muhammad claimed a spot when she finished second out of 35 sprinters in the 60-meter dash running a 7.73 in the prelims to advance to the finals, where she crossed the finish line in 7.64.

Irvin-Muhammad was joined as a indoor conference qualifier by Peer, and Irvin-Muhammad earned top honors out of 53 women in the 200 meter by running a 25.10 in the finals. Peer placed second with a time of 25.15.

Sisters Rebecca and Julie Cronin finished the 400-meter dash in 10th and 11th out of 30, respectively. The women broke the tape at 58.78 and 58.96.

“A coach always loves seeing an athlete execute,” said Connie Teaberry, director of track and field and cross country. “A’Iesha and Tahtyana ended up qualifying for the indoor MAC championship. We had a lot of young ladies that PR’d or gave it the best that they had. At the end of the day, it was about putting points on the board, everyone contributed to our points totals which allowed us to finish in third place. We were pleased with the place we finished considering the teams that were there [and] coming off of winter break, but those two, A’Iesha and Tahtyana, put a little more of a stamp on their performances because now they know they are qualified for the indoor MAC championships.”

NIU spring semester additions Claudette Day and Latesha Bigby made an impact in their first ever collegiate competition. Bigby scored in both the high jump and the long jump. She reached 5-03.25 in the high jump to tie for fifth out of 19 jumpers. She later jumped 17-08.00 (5.38m) in the long jump to claim eighth out of 27.

Day had a fifth-place out of 29 finish in the 60 hurdles. She ran a 8.91 in the prelims, which was the sixth-best time. In the finals, she moved up a spot finishing with a time of 8.83. She also joined Bigby as a point producer when she took third place in the long jump with a mark of 18-03.25

Junior Sidra Sherrill placed fifth out of 14 in the shot put with a throwing distance of 46-02.75.

“Our field eventers I feel had it the hardest,” Teaberry said. “When going home for break it’s harder for them to work on their technique, but we saw some good competitive nature … I liked the way they were able to adjust to the critiquing field events coach [Vince] Bingham has given them, and try to go back and make those adjustments immediately. We were proud of their performances and they will do even better in meets to come.”

In their first competition since the Midwest Regional on Nov. 15, the distance runners had three women score points during the meet.

Senior Juliane Totzke and redshirt freshman Leah Raffety finished sixth and seventh out of 29, respectively, in the 3000 meter run, having times of 10:20.23 and 10:23.40. In the mile run, junior Meghan Heuer was tenth out of 51 with a time of 5:04.75. Ali Olson placed 13th with a time of 5:10.96.

“This was the first meet back for the distance group,” Teaberry said. “We were extremely proud of their performances, and the way they really showed competitive nature in the event that they were in.

“That’s what we are looking for from the girls, we still have a lot of work to do with endurance and getting in shape with almost all of the athletes. But when you see them out there fighting for their places trying to pass other runners and continuously trying to move up that’s music to a coaches ears. We are extremely proud of them coming back from the cross country season and coming right into indoors and putting some points on the board and being a factor.”