Huskies finish track and field regular season at Drake Relays

The MAC Outdoor Championships will begin Thursday in Kalamazoo, Michigan


Courtesy James Hoeck | The Daily Illini

Sophomore runner Scout Regular (left) jumps over a hurdle during the 100-meter hurdles event Saturday at the Illini Classic at Demirijan Park Stadium in Urbana, Illinois. Scout recorded a time of 14.32 seconds to take first place in the event, alongside three other NIU first-place finishes.

By Skyler Kisellus, Sports Reporter

DeKALB — The track and field team brought their regular season to a close Saturday with competition at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, and the Kip Janvrin Open in Indianola, Iowa.

The majority of the three-day span of competition was spent at the Drake Relays hosted by Drake University. NIU sent a small group a distance runners to compete in events Friday and Saturday at the Kip Janvrin Open hosted by Simpson College.

Huskies compete in the “Blue Oval”

Junior Brooke Lytle was the only Huskie to record personal bests during competition at the Drake Relays. Lytle recorded a time of 10:46.76 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. The time beat her previous season-best of 10:57.34 at the Jim Duncan Invitational on April 15 by about 10 seconds. Her performance in the event fell just short of a top-20 finish, earning 21st place.

NIU’s highest event finishes came in the 200-meter dash and 4×400-meter relay. Sophomore Skylynn Blue posted a time of 23.97 seconds in the 200-meter dash to take seventh place. Sophomore Malia Watkins finished .46 seconds behind Blue’s time to claim 11th place with 24.43 seconds.

A seventh place finish in the 4×400-meter relay resulted from the efforts of freshman Roshell Rowe, senior Kaitlyn Lewis, Crawford and senior Dymier Jeffery. The quartet clocked in at 3:49.67 to finish .39 seconds behind the sixth place team, the United States Air Force Academy.

“We didn’t see the results we were hoping for at the historic Drake Relays this weekend, but the athletes’ efforts were top notch,” director of track and field Connie Teaberry said in an NIU Athletics news release. “It’s hard with the work the athletes put in not to want them to (set a personal record) every weekend, but that’s not realistic. The weather and some execution issues hindered several results.”

Distance heads to Indianola

On top of competition at the Drake Relays, NIU sent its distance runners about 20 miles south to compete in the Kip Janvrin Open. Two runners recorded season-bests at the event.

Junior Kaitlin Miller’s time of 17:49.32 in the 5,000-meter run earned her 11th place. Graduate Sara Atkins followed behind at 18:04.78 to take 20th place. Each of the times were the best all season for Miller and Atkins.

Freshman Emma Vorpagel and Lytle earned 14th place in their respective events. Vorpagel finished the 800-meter run in 2:20.50. Lytle clocked in at 4:47.87 in the 1,500-meter run.

Senior Grace Louis rounded out NIU’s outing at the Kip Janvrin after competing in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. The Cincinnati product came in 11th place after crossing the finish line in 11:29.64.

“When an athlete has an unfavorable competition and has the ability to pick themselves up and prepare for the next event or competition with a positive outlook, the weekend is still a success,” Teaberry said. “Their resilience, unity, support and positivity were rewarding to watch. We will go back to the lab and prepare for the (Mid-American Conference) Championships in a week and a half.”

All eyes toward the MAC Championship

The Huskies will now focus on their upcoming trip to Kalamazoo, Michigan, for the MAC Outdoor Championships. The three-day long event will be hosted by Western Michigan University and feature the 12 teams that make up the MAC. Competition will begin Thursday and end Saturday.