Northwest Track and Field

Freshman Emily Saalfeld paces herself during the 1 mile run on Jan. 23. Northwest track and field hosted the Herschel Neil invite on Jan. 30



Northwest track and field continued to rewrite the program's history book Jan. 22-23 at the Northwest Open in the Carl and Cheryl Hughes Fieldhouse.

Last weekend, junior Jake Norris finished the one-mile run in 4 minutes, 8 seconds and 54 milliseconds, a new program record on the men’s side.

On the first day of the meet, two more records were broken. The men’s distance medley team finished the race in 19:12.38, a new program record that previously stood for 32 years. Norris, redshirt freshman Prince Griffin, sophomore Reece Smith and junior Abdelrahim Mahgoub finished the race in a time that was good enough to provisionally qualify at the Division II level.

The women’s distance medley team finished its race in 12:00.38, which broke the previous women’s record set in 2013 by 19 seconds and was also good enough to provisionally qualify. The team consisted of junior Caroline Cunningham, sophomore Aliyah Simmons, freshman Bailey Blake and sophomore Delanie Dykes

“I was very excited because I believe it shows the hard work the whole team has been putting in,” Dykes said. “I was also so happy with dropping the record by about 19 seconds because I knew we could do it, but doing it by that much just gave us all a boost of confidence, and it is a great way to start the season.”

Simmons said this is just the beginning and that they are still training hard and doing what needs to be done. She said that coach Brandon Masters does an amazing job ensuring preparation for each meet and that she makes sure to do everything he says.

“In order to stay above the rest you have to do what the 99% isn’t,” Simmons said. “Whether it’s properly eating and hydrating, doing a little extra on your own or staying in on weekends to rest instead of partying because you want to be the best, it’s simply making small sacrifices for the  big goals you’ve set for yourself.”

Cunningham said she knew going into the meet they had an opportunity to break the school record. 

“It was exciting to do that with my teammates and to be able to celebrate and share that accomplishment with them,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham said it is important to realize this is only the beginning of the season and there is still room to improve.

Norris said he was grateful for the opportunity, and the support from the team makes it that much more exciting. 

“Reaching your goals always feels good, and it just makes it that much easier to trust the process in practice and meets,” Norris said.

Smith said he knew they had broken the record by multiple seconds, and it was super exciting to see the relay team celebrating. 

Griffin said it felt good to be part of that accomplishment and helped the team realize that the hard work does pay off. 

“I don’t think we could have done it without all of our teammates cheering us on throughout the whole race,” Griffin said.

Griffin said this gives him a lot of confidence and an experience with a big moment. He said it takes the pressure off, so he knows if he just runs the way he prepares to then he’ll do fine.

Smith broke another record during the weekend, finishing the 3,000-meter run with a time of 8:18.35.

“Looking at the people's names who are at the top of the 3,000-meter record like Karmin (Achengli) and Jhordan (Ccope), who are great athletes, it's nice to have my name up there with them,” Smith said.

Breaking the record is a good step, Smith said, but the team has bigger goals in mind for the rest of the season.

“Coach Gibson has done a phenomenal job with making me and my teammates prepared to run fast and at the right times,” Smith said. “If you look at our team, everyone is really running great, and we haven't even begun to back off the training.”

As for the whole team, Masters said the culture of the team is better than what he had initially dreamed of.

“There are always people cheering for each other on the sides,” Masters said.

His athletes agreed with him, and some said it’s the best culture they’ve been around.

“The culture of this team is really unlike anything I've ever seen or experienced,” Smith said. “Everyone is so team-oriented, putting the team before themselves.”

Dykes said everyone loves to encourage each other and thinks that the coronavirus brought them closer together because their teammates are who they’re face-to-face with the most.

“I think we’re definitely the loudest ones at meets,” sophomore Blake Morgan said.

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