Track & field takes on NCAA championships, kicks off outdoor season


Chris Heermann/The Observer

At the Washington and Lee Track and Field Carnival, second-year Elise Moore (pictured) takes home one of her two fourth-place finishes in the 400-meter dash

Puneet Bansal, Sports Editor

The Case Western Reserve University track and field team was well-represented at the 2022 NCAA Division III Indoor Championships. Four athletes were named to the competition field on March 7: third-year distance runner Jack Begley, third-year mid-distance Joe Jaster, fourth-year mid-distance runner Logan Singer and third-year distance runner Cecelia Zielke. The quartet traveled to Winston-Salem, North Carolina for their first ever championship competition on March 11-12.

“Every one of them is a first timer and until you’ve been and get that first experience,” said Head Coach Eric Schmuhl in an interview with the CWRU Athletic Department, “there’s a lot of elements to it that are a little foreign, particularly the adrenaline of being on that stage.”

Days before the competition, the four runners also earned All-Great Lakes Region honors from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association. Begley was named for the 5,000-meter run, Jaster for the 3,000-meter run, Zielke for the 5,000-meter run and Singer for the mile run. The top five individuals for each event—and top three relay teams—from each region earn the award.

Singer opened the competition for the Spartans on the first day. He finished 17th out of 20 athletes in the preliminary one-mile run with a time of 4:14.20. Singer had set the school record for the event with a time of 4:11.59 earlier in the season. Aidan Ryan of Williams College took the championship with a time of 4:05.60.

Zielke ran the 5,000-meter run next and placed 16th in a field of 20 runners, completing the distance in 17:41.51. She had qualified for the national meet with a 17:27.46 run, which was the best time by any CWRU athlete this season. Kassie Parker of Loras College won with a 16:15.06 performance.

Begley rounded out the day with a 15th place in 14:48.55 for the 5,000-meter event. Begley had set the school record with a time of 14:25.06 in a previous meet this season. Alex Phillip of John Carroll came in first in 14:10.02.

Jaster finished off the events for CWRU on the second day. In the 3,000-meter run, Jaster finished 13th with a time of 8:27.79. He qualified for the meet with a program record run of 8:16.52. Phillip was crowned for his second victory with this event after completing the distance in 8:16.62.

“I couldn’t be prouder of everybody,” reflected Coach Schmuhl. “It’s not often that you get that big of a group to a national meet and so it was fun to get to know each other better… Given the things that we’ve had to go through, whether it be pandemic-related or team-related, it’s been a good indoor season.”

Coach Schmuhl also talked about the outdoor season, saying that “There’s a lot of growth that comes out of [the indoor season]. People start to recognize their potential and the team’s potential, so [with] moving it outdoors, I’ve got a lot of excitement to see where people take it from here.”

The Spartans kicked off their outdoor season last Saturday at the Washington and Lee Track & Field Carnival in Lexington, Virginia.

First-year Sarah Ozeki won the triple jump after putting in an 11.09-meter performance. Second-year Emily Hopkins came in fourth with a 10.88-meter showing. Both athletes also competed in the 100-meter hurdles, with Ozeki coming in sixth (15.85 seconds) and Hopkins finishing eighth (15.68 seconds).

Meanwhile, third-year Victoria Zhao tied for first in the pole vault at 3.07 meters. Two more athletes had top-four positions, with third-year Shelby Cooper coming in third with 2.92 meters and first-year Amelia DeiBiase came in fourth with the same mark.

In the 3,000-meter steeplechase, third-year Liam O’Reilly took the victory with a 9:56.65 win. Fourth-year Christopher Heermann came in seventh with 10:39.79.

Third-year Mia Vargo took second place in the high jump, going 1.57 meters in the pit. Second-year Jessica Kwasny also came in second in the 800-meter run in 2:20.77. She also competed in the 1,500-meter run, finishing in 4:49.12 and taking third place.

Second-year Elise Moore took two fourth-place finishes in the 400-meter dash (1:00.35) and as a part of the 4×100-meter relay alongside Hopkins, Ozeki and second-year Anna Zinsser (51.16).

Third-year Peculiar Nzegbuna came in second at the 110-meter hurdles (15.64). Third-year Keith Cartwright, first-year Noah Coyne, second-year Michael Smoluk and fourth-year Juan Perez placed third in the 4×100-meter relay (43.10). The 4×400-meter relay team of Smoluk, Perez, first-year William DeYoung and third-year Will Dehmler earned fourth-place (3:25.06).

 This weekend, CWRU will travel to Pittsburgh to compete in the CMU Invitational.