Improvement was the word of the day for the Occidental track and field programs on Saturday at SCIAC Multi-Dual 2, as numerous Tigers dropped time in track events and added distance in the field by significant margins. The performances led to a men’s sweep over the Caltech Beavers and the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens and a split for the women, who defeated the Beavers but fell to the Sagehens.
“It was really a collective team effort today,” Occidental track and field head coach Rob Bartlett said. “The throwers did great, the sprinters did well, and the distance runners did well, too. Really the whole team contributed.”
On the track, The Occidental Weekly staff member and middle-distance runner Alex Nieves (junior) finished second in the 400-meter with a time of 49.17 seconds, dropping 1.20 seconds from his lifetime best and giving him the ninth best time in Division-III this season. Sophomore Greg Capra also dropped his time by over a second in the 400.
First-years Kyle Dalton and Jeh Johnson finished second and third in the 200-meter, producing lifetime bests of 22.18 seconds and 22.22 seconds, both respectively.
Dalton also finished second in the 100-meter with a time of 11.10 seconds, while Kevin Cox (senior) followed closely with a fourth-place finish of 11.16 seconds.
Additionally, relay efforts brought home two first-place finishes for men’s sprinters. Dalton, Johnson, Nieves and Cox defeated the Sagehens in both the 4×100 and 4×400 meter relays, crossing the finish line at 42.29 seconds and 3:18.54 minutes, respectively. The 4×400 squad now holds the nation’s second-fastest time.
Junior Jenny Quilty and Onyekachi Nwabueze (first-year) took center stage on the women’s side. Quilty took third place in the 100-meter with a season-best of 12.89 seconds and second place in the 200-meter at 25.99 seconds. She finished right behind Nwabueze, who crossed the finish line victoriously at 25.93 seconds.
Both Quilty and Nwabueze remain on Occidental’s all-time top-10 for the 200.
Additionally, hurdler Rachael Hinkel (sophomore) won her second SCIAC competition of the season with a seasonal best of 15.53 seconds.
“If you look around, almost everyone had seasonal bests or lifetime bests,” sprint coach Tyler Yamaguchi said. “In track and field, that’s what you’re always after: improving yourself.”
The distance runners strung together an equally impressive day.
Junior Colin Smith won the physically taxing 1,500-meter with a time of 3:56.94 minutes. After recovering from the stresses of his first race, Smith then secured a lifetime-best of 1:57.93 minutes and a sixth-place finish in the 800-meter less than an hour later.
First-year Raoul Friedemann posted a collegiate best 1:57.74 minutes in the 800 en route to a fifth-place finish.
Senior Jenna Wong and Weekly staff member Mel Devoney (first-year) led the charge for the women’s distance runners. Wong finished third in the 5,000-meter, shaving off a minute from her SCIAC Multi-Dual 1 time. Devoney finished fourth in the 1,500-meter, also claiming a season-best time at 4:53.14 minutes.
“I think the training is paying off for everybody,” Smith said. “Everybody is working hard and gaining confidence.”
Occidental’s participants in the field events showed great promise and served as the largest point-contributors on the day.
Well-known football standouts Andrew Clarey (sophomore) and Dalton Spinas (senior) — the latter competing in his first collegiate track and field event — both finished in top-three of their respective events.
Clarey grabbed second place in the shot put, throwing a career-best of 42-10.75 feet. Spinas worked his way into third place in discus, throwing 122-22 feet to start out his career.
Sophomore Noah Winnick took fifth in javelin and recorded a season-best of 144-09 feet. Junior Kimberly Orpinela moved into fourth all-time in the Occidental women’s record book when she finished in second place with a lifetime best of 135-06 feet.
“Today was a very good example of Oxy track and field filling the field gap that we haven’t had for a couple of years,” Winnick said. “It’s nice to have a group of guys that are throwing together and working well together. It was very fun.”
A few Tigers head to San Diego on Friday and Saturday for the Cal-Nevada Championships. The entire team will then regroup for the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational on April 12.