The Colorado College men’s and women’s track and field teams traveled to Pueblo to compete in CSU Pueblo’s ThunderBowl over spring break. On both sides, the Tigers were the only Division III team to participate in the matchup. The other participants were members of the Division II Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
The men’s team finished fourth with a total of 43 points behind CSU-Pueblo, Adams State, and Metro State. The Tigers were powered by a strong performance from freshman Justin Nguyen. Nguyen recorded nine total points for CC in the meet. He placed fifth in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.99 seconds, eighth in the 200-meter with a time of 23.99, and sixth in the long jump with a distance of 5.19 meters.
“Justin had a great day in Pueblo,” said Head Coach Ted Castaneda. “He’s been a role model even as a freshman.” Nguyen credits spring break preparation for his great performance. “For this last meet, it was kind of hard to prepare as it was right after spring break and many people didn’t have access to a track, and thus couldn’t get workout in,” said Nguyen. “However, for those of us that could get workouts in, it showed at this meet and we had many people perform very well.”
Fellow first-year Gabe Fine and Robin Li helped propel the Tigers to their fourth place finish. Li finished eighth in the 100-meter and seventh in the long jump, while Fine finished fifth in the 400-meter dash.
CC had a strong showing in the 800-meter event with junior Tucker Hampson, first-year Ethan Holland, and sophomore Ryan Bing all finishing in the top ten. Hampson nearly broke into the top three with a fourth-place finish and time of 1:59.60.
The Tigers used the meet to raise their performances to meet that of their Division II opponents. “We’re fully into the outdoor season now and we have high hopes and expectations,” said Castaneda. “We can be competitive going up against Division II because it can lead to drops in time. The higher division brings a big psychological and physical boost.”
“We don’t settle just because we aren’t in their division and are always striving to win every meet regardless of who our competition is,” Nguyen continued.
The women’s track and field team finished fifth in the meet. The Tigers used a full team performance to garner a strong finish. CC had its strongest performance this year in the 800-meter race. Sophomore Stefani Messick finished fourth, junior Beryl Coulter finished fifth, sophomore Leah Wessler came in seventh, and freshman Corey Luna rounded out the Tigers’ performance by placing eighth. Coulter trailed Messick by less than half a second.
“Stefani ran the fastest time we’ve seen all season, which is great as the captain of the mid-distance squad,” said senior Rebecca Lavietes.
Like the men, the women’s team rose to the level of their Division II counterparts. “The girls team will be putting together some strong relays for conference, and we should expect more All-Conference finishes than last year,” said Coulter.
Lavietes led CC in the 5000-meter event by placing sixth with a time of 19:23.86. “It was a really good show. Katie Sandfort and I weren’t far off from our times in the Vegas meet,” said Lavietes, “Everyone on the team is blowing away their times from this time last year, and it’s building a lot of momentum.”
The Tigers will be looking to use the momentum they have built to lead them in the Fort Hays State University Alex Francis Classic and SCAC Championships.
“We have a little over a month until Conference, but the team has already had a lot of personal records and faster performances than last year,” said Coulter.
“This meet was a great momentum builder. Some people are a little flat after the break so it was really good for us to get this meet in before Hays,” added Coach Castaneda.