Juniors Abbey Brennan, Giovanna Domene, Corinne O’Leary and sophomore Brooke Studnicki claimed the Women’s NAIA 4x800-meter relay race national championship in dominating fashion.
The time of 9:18.25 was enough for a comfortable five second margin of victory over Morningside’s quartet of runners. The time was also quick enough to beat the previous school record, which was set by this same group of Trojan runners last year, also during the indoor track nationals which placed the group fifth.
What makes the feat more impressive is that O’Leary and Domene have currently had their training set on next month’s cross country national championship, yet they still went out and performed well. A deep trust and an ability to have fun is the key for the group having so much success in the past on the track.
During the finals race, Domene told O’Leary to go out and beat the school record.
“After that, we weren’t really competing against the other teams, it was, ‘Let’s just try to get the school record at this point,’” O’Leary said.
During the preliminary race, the quartet of Trojan runners ran the fastest time of 9:27.08, showing a near nine second improvement for the finals.
Brennan and Domene also competed in other events during preliminary night, the 600-meter race and the 1,000-meter race, respectively. However, neither qualified for the finals.
Freshman Patience Sakeuh became an All-American with her performance in the 60-meter hurdle race with a time of 9.13 to finish eighth. She also outperformed expectations for her as the 16 seed. Senior Livy Schroder would also become an All-American with her performance in the 5,000-meter race with a time 17:45.15 to finish fourth. This was her best performance at the national championships with previous finishes of 19th and 14th.
These efforts were enough to help Taylor post a 14th place finish overall with 16 points.
The Taylor men’s team would produce two All-Americans in the 5,000-meter race: senior Josh Roth and junior Alex Helmuth. Roth, last year’s national champion in the 3,000-meter race, would run a 14:43.69 in the 5,000-meter race, which would be good enough for fifth. Helmuth would run a 14:50.47, which would be good enough for seventh in the same race.
“I was pretty happy with it, it was by far my strongest race of the season, so it was a good bounceback performance,” Roth said.
Roth feels he has been on the back foot for much of the school year due to hamstring issues and is looking forward to the outdoor season.
There were also three other Taylor runners in the 5,000-meter race, senior Luke Rovenstine, junior Derek Van Prooyen, and junior Connor White. They would finish 10th, 15th and 16th, respectively.
Taylor men would also have two other runners in events. Freshman Nate Conkel ran the 800-meter preliminary but would not qualify for the finals. Senior Daniel Gerber ran the 3,000-meter race and would finish 10th overall in the finals.
These efforts were enough to help Taylor post a 44th place finish overall with six points.
“I think we had more highs than lows this year. It was definitely a successful meet,” head coach Derek Gay said.
Both the men’s and women’s track teams will start their outdoor season on March 27 in Marion.