The Northern Illinois track and field team got its outdoor season off to a great start Friday with one event title and 15 top 10 finishes at the Bulls Invitational.
In a field that included athletes from Michigan, Florida State, Kentucky and Rutgers, Meghan Heuer paced the Huskies with a victory in the 1500 meters, while 10 different NIU athletes found themselves in the top 10.
“Today, we had extremely strong efforts from our entire team,” said NIU head coach Connie Teaberry. “Our highlights were Meghan Heuer and Jamie Burr going one-two in the 1500 meters, along with Janay Mitchell automatically qualifying for the outdoor MAC Championships in the 200 meters. This meet was extremely competitive with teams such as Kentucky, Florida State and Michigan to name a few.”
“Regardless of those present, our ladies competed with confidence. We had success on the track, but the staff’s greatest pleasure this week was watching the camaraderie of the team grow.”
In her first outdoor meet in the Cardinal and Black, Heuer broke the tape with a time of 4:36.63. The St. Charles, Ill., native outpaced teammate and second place finisher Jamie Burr by nearly a second. For Burr, she clocked in at a personal-best 4:37.41, beating out Kentucky’s Hiruni Wijayaratne by four-tenths of a second.
Fellow middle distance runner Julianne Cronin also smashed a career-best mark, doing so in the 800 meters. The sophomore from Bartlett, Ill., placed sixth with a time of 2:18.63 – nearly one and a half seconds better than her best mark from her freshman campaign.
In the 3000 meters, freshman Leah Raffety nearly broke a school record by placing second at 10:18.91. That mark came within three seconds of Nancy Nieto’s record of 10:16.05 in 2009. Following Raffety was teammate Juliane Totzke, who clocked in at 10:22.34.
Janay Mitchell posted the best finishes in the sprints with two ninth place finishes in the 100 meters and 200 meters. The Teaneck, N.J., native posted an 11.82 mark in the 100, then followed that up with a 24.40 clip in the 200 – a mark that gives her an automatic berth into the Mid-American Conference Outdoor Championships in May.
Jenelle McCalla kicked off her final outdoor campaign with an eighth place showing in the 400 hurdles. NIU’s record holder in the event clocked in at 1:04.17, good for third in the second heat.
For the relays, NIU’s 4×100 team of Brittany Smith, Mitchell, Megan Gregory and Chanel Kellyman posted a fifth place finish at 46.90, beating out Marquette and Central Michigan in the final standings. In the 4×400 relay, McCalla, Kellyman, Alexandra Rowe and Cronin teamed up to take seventh with a time of 3:59.51. Meanwhile, Alicia Osley, Mitchell, Erica Miller and Kristal Pitts took 10th place at 4:02.30.
Ellen Renk and Alex Schad came through big in the triple jump with fifth and sixth place finishes, respectively. Renk, a freshman from Peru, Ill., jumped 35-02.00 (10.72m), while Schad leapt a career-best 34-05.50 (10.50m). Meanwhile, Michaela Dwyer came through with a PR in the long jump at 16-10.25 (5.13m).
Sidra Sherrill continued with her strong sophomore season with an eighth place showing in the discus, tossing 138-03 (42.15m).
The Huskies return to the track in two weeks when they send athletes to both the Texas Relays and the Raleigh Relays. Qualifiers and schedules for both meets will be set in the near future.
For more information on NIU track and field and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.