Occidental’s track and field teams performed strongly in the second SCIAC Multi-Dual meet this past Saturday. The men’s team swept the competition, defeating Caltech 126-18, Chapman 127-16 and Cal Lutheran 95-66. The women’s team went 2-1 for the day, with an 83-28 win over Chapman, and an 87-47 victory over Caltech. The wins were keyed by valuable contributions across the board.
“I’m very proud of the team—that was certainly our best meet of the season,” head coach Rob Bartlett said. “We had a significant number of seasonal and lifetime bests, which is what you hope for.”
On the track, Occidental got an impressive showing from Hugh Pegan (first-year). Pegan placed first in both the 100 meter (10.83) and the 200 meter (21.71), setting personal best marks in both races. His times are good enough for 6th and 3rd best in the NCAA so far this season.
“I’m really happy,” Pegan said after the meet. “I PRed two weeks ago at Redlands on a very fast track, so I was surprised that I was able to improve on those times again this week.”
Pegan also ran the second leg of the 4×400 relay, in which Occidental took home a second place finish. The Tigers’ 4×400 team, which also featured Greg Capra (Junior), Jeh Johnson (Sophomore), and Gabriel Barret-Jackson (first-year) posted the third fastest time in the nation (3:18.15).
Barret-Jackson set a personal best time in the 400 (48.17). His mark is good for third best in Division III and could very likely earn him a spot at national championships later this spring.
“I dropped a second off my previous best time, and a second is a big deal,” Barret-Jackson said. “I’m really excited about my performance.”
On the women’s side, Onyekachi Nwabueze (sophomore) stole the show, winning the 200 (25.77) and placing second in the 100 (12.69). Nwabueze’s time in the 200 was just over her personal best mark of 25.63. The sophomore sees her performance as a result of diligent training.
“This whole week I’ve been focusing on going harder in practice, and I feel like it really paid off today,” Nwabueze said.
Oxy All-SCIAC cross country runner Mel Devoney* (sophomore), successfully translated her 6k races to shorter track races in the 800 and 1500 meters, picking up two third place finishes. Devoney finished the 800 in 2:30.31, and the 1,500 in 4:57.78. Grace Bender (senior) ran well too, recording a personal record time in the 1,500 (5:12.14).
Occidental’s participants in the field events also made valuable contributions. Noah Winnick (junior) won the hammer throw with a toss of 139′ 11″ and the javelin with a throw of 164′ 4″, both personal bests. His personal best of 43′ 10.75″ in the shot-put was good enough for a third place finish.
“I felt relaxed and powerful out there,” Winnick said. “I just made sure to stay competitive and keep focused.”
Stephen Nemeth* (sophomore) and Taylor Walton (first-year) also had big days; each placed first in their respective field events. Walton cleared 6′ 4.75″ to win the high jump, and came close to clearing 6′ 9″ on a subsequent attempt. Nemeth won the pole vault, clearing 13′ 5.25.”
For the women, Kimberly Orpinela (senior) took 1st in the hammer throw with a mark of 137′ 5″, and Braelin Stockton (sophomore) posted a personal best in the discus by 10 feet (86′ 8″). Chloe Huber (sophomore) earned a spot in Occidental’s track and field record books. She cleared 5′ 1″, moving her into seventh on Occidental’s all-time high jump list.
With Saturday’s success, the Occidental men’s team improves its dual meet record to 4-1, with the women moving to 2-3 on the season.
Sprinting coach Tyler Yamaguchi has high hopes for both the men’s and women’s teams as the season continues.
“I think the men have a good shot at doing some special things at the conference championship meet and at nationals” Yamaguki said. “On the women’s side we’ve got some unbelievable individuals who we’re really excited about going forward.”
*works for The Occidental Weekly