Mackenzie Kush/ Winonan
The last half of March saw many accomplishments from individuals on Winona State University’s track and field team, as well as the team as a whole.
Freshman Kaitlyn Long threw a 68’ 8 3/4” to win the national championship in the weight throw March 13 and 14 at the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships in Birmingham, Alabama.
Long had already broke the school record, set the NSIC record and accomplished the sixth-best throw in Division II history prior to becoming the NCAA champion.
Long said she did not expect to do this well in weight throw, since incoming freshman are “used to being the best at their high school and come to college and have to train hard and usually don’t get big marks until later in their college careers.”
“Knowing that I just learned weight throw this school year and won the national title in the same year gives me a lot of hope,” Long said. “I have big goals in the upcoming seasons and am determined to do greater things.”
Long was in third place with a throw of 66’ ½” after the first three throws at the meet.
She came out strong for her last throw, tossing her championship-winning throw of 68’ 8 ¾” on her fifth out of six throws.
Long said, “Even though it’s been a couple of weeks since I won, it still feels surreal that all the training I had done has paid off. I feel very honored and proud to represent Winona State.”
Long’s title marks the third individual national championship for the Winona State track and field program.
She also achieved being the second Warrior to win a national championship in the indoor season and in the weight throw, behind Mary Theisen in 2011.
“Although there were definitely hard days where I felt like giving up, or like I wasn’t good enough, I think what kept me motivated throughout the season was my competitive attitude,” Long said. “No one trains to lose. Everyone wants to be the best, and I keep in the back of my mind that my competition is getting better every day, so I have to be even better.”
Junior Alissa Rausch also had a strong performance at the NCAA Championships. She threw the shot put 49’ 7 ¼” on her final throw that moved her to finish in fourth place after falling to fifth place.
The 4×400 meter relay team of junior Megan Seidl, senior Kelsey Bethke, freshman Brittany Schyvinck and senior Catherine Whitcomb placed fourth and ran their best time of 3:47.10.
The Warriors were just over two seconds behind the first place champions from Southern Connecticut State.
Whitcomb said, “It was very exciting to finish 4th at nationals. I was never expecting that we would do that well. I was very happy that it all came together for us, and we were able to run a clean race.”
As a team, the Warriors finished ninth overall, achieving Winona State’s best ever NCAA finish.
Winona State went into the Championships ranked 32nd in the nation.
Another huge accomplishment for the Winona State track and field team was the announcement on March 16 of all six Warriors including Bethke, Long, Rausch, Schyvinck, Seidl and Whitcomb earning All-American honors for their performances at the NCAA National Championship.
Whitcomb said, “Being an All-American means a lot. It’s something we have been trying to do since we started qualifying for nationals four years ago. I knew we had the ability to be All Americans, especially this year with the amount of really good 400 runners we have.”
Whitcomb said the season was long, but having the end goal in mind kept them motivated. They were all working toward the same goal.
“Personally, looking at racing as a way to glorify God has always helped me. He continually invites me to come and sacrifice for Him by using the talents He gave me for His greater glory,” she said.
The Warriors had several meets over the weekend, including the Ashton May Invitational on Friday.
Senior Jordan Skelly broke her school record in the 3000-meter dash with a time of 10:46.47.
She qualified for the DII Outdoor National Championship with this achievement.
Freshman Brittney Schyvinck finished third in the 400-meter dash with a time of 1:00.19.
Sophomore Hailey Deschaine and junior Katie Bagley also came away with third place spots. Deschaine placed third in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 12:59, and Bagley ran a time of 2:17.42 in the 800-meter dash.
The field events took place in Kearney, Nebraska at the UNK Loper Invite on Saturday.
Senior Alissa Rausch came away with three top three wins. She finished second in the shot put with a throw of 14.65 meters, second in the hammer throw with a 54.60-meter toss and third in the discus, throwing 48.11 meters.
The Warriors were strong in the discus event with freshman Delaney Miller setting a career-best throw of 47.88 meters, and freshman Ashley Thooft throwing a personal best 45.80 meters, qualifying them both provisionally for the NCAA DII Outdoor National Championship.
Sophomore Andrea Bartz set a career-best in the triple jump with a score of 11.63 meters and set another career best in the long up with a total of 5.39.
Junior Natalie Busher finished in third in the javelin, throwing 33.76 meters.
Freshman Amanda Schaefer placed first in the long jump with a jump of 1.58 meters, and freshman Nicole Motkowski was right behind her in third place with a 1.53-meter jump.
Next, the Winona State track and field team will compete in the Gorilla Classic in Pittsburg, Kansas on Saturday, April 11.