Track ’Cats ranked 16 nationally

The NMU women’s track and field team traveled to compete at Grand Valley State University’s elite invitational meet Friday, Feb. 10 and the open meet on Saturday, Feb. 11.

Friday’s competition was an invitation-only meet for athletes who had already provisionally qualified for nationals.

Receiving invites were freshman Angelina Howard, redshirt freshman Sherice Hewett, sophomore Jaime Roberts and seniors Catherine Angeli, Melissa Christensen and Bailey Franklin.

Howard, who ran 7.74 seconds in the 60-meter dash and got seventh overall, said no matter the results she was happy with her improvement on her time.

“There was a lot of good competition there,” Howard said. “I didn’t win but I was happy because I ran my fastest time this season.”

Head coach Tom Barnes said Howard’s times have been consistently good across the board.

“Angelina had a great weekend at Grand Valley State and ran her best time, lowering her provisional qualifying time,” Barnes said. “She ran well against one of the top sprinters in the country and we are looking for her to keep moving up in rankings.”

Placing fifth overall in the women’s pentathlon, which includes 60-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump and 800 meters was Melissa Christensen.

Barnes said Christensen made some great strides this meet that will put her higher in placing at upcoming meets.

“She made a lot of improvements in her shot put and 800 meter,” Barnes said. “Those two events will give her a lot of extra points with GLIACs coming up.”

Franklin took first in the high jump, clearing 1.68 meters. On Saturday, she had a season personal record in triple jump at 11.45 meters.

Barnes said even though it wasn’t her best distance, he was proud she was able to improve this season.

“Since her freshman year, Bailey hasn’t lost a conference triple jump competition,” Barnes said. “She has some good competition in our conference and on the team; that will push Bailey to do her best.”

Roberts cleared 3.75 meters in the pole vault on Friday, which was enough to place ninth and tie her season best.

Barnes said she did much better on Saturday and won the open competition, clearing 3.80 meters. Roberts set a new school record and is now ranked fifth in the country.

Most of the athletes that competed on Friday also competed on Saturday. Barnes said the experience is good for the athletes to push themselves.

“It’s an opportunity to try to get more time,” Barnes said. “We are just now starting to taper, so training through a two-day meet was good for them.”

Barnes said overall the team had a very successful meet on Saturday. Howard and Angeli placed second in the 60-meter dash and 200-meter dash, respectively. Junior Mallory Celaya finished fourth in her 3,000 meter run with a time of 10:30.16.

The team will compete at home this weekend at the Northern Challenge at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18 in the Superior Dome.

“The team is really looking forward to competing at home where their friends and family can come and cheer them on,” Barnes said.

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