Following strong performances in the heptathlon, the Northern Illinois University track and field team kept the momentum going Thursday at the Penn Relays by breaking the school record in the distance medley relay.
Ali Olson (New Auburn, Wis./Bloomer), Julianne Cronin (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett), Rebecca Cronin (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett) and Meghan Heuer (St. Charles, Ill./North) teamed up to register a time of 11:36.53 to top the old mark set in 2012 by 10 seconds.
“Our day was full of some high and low performances,” said NIU head coach Connie Teaberry. “The unfavorable morning wins was not kind to those on the track. Even though the marks were not quite what we were hoping for, the athletes gave great efforts today.”
After just missing the cut to compete in the Championship of America heat, the Huskie quartet made the most of their opportunity in the college heat by taking second place in the 19-team field that included Clemson, Providence and Georgia Tech, among others.
Key to the record-breaking run was Julianne Cronin, whose 400 meters time of 56.03 would rank as the best on the team, and Olson’s 3:35.92 clip in the 1200-meter portion of the relay. “Ali, Julie, Becca and Meghan gave great competitive efforts and I’m proud of the way they represent the Huskie family,” Teaberry said.
Tyra Bickham (Blue Springs, Mo./Blue Springs) had a sensational day in the throws. The freshman set a new personal record in the discus with a toss of 154-07 (47.12m), topping Penn State’s duo of Rachel Fatherly and Melissa Kurzdorfer to claim ninth and a Mid-American Conference automatic berth. Later on in the day, she hit 41-07.25 (12.68m) in the shot put en route to a 15th finish.
“Tyra is extremely talented and is coming into her confidence as a collegiate athlete,” Teaberry said. “She is definitely one to watch as the season continues.”
Facing some of the nation’s top sprinters, NIU’s 4×100 relay team of Alexandria Isom (St. Louis, Mo./Nerinx Hall), A’Iesha Irvin-Muhammad (East St. Louis, Ill./St. Elizabeth Academy), Tahtyana Peer (Milwaukee, Wis./King) and Latesha Bigby (Hanover, Jamaica/Butler CC) ran 47.20 to finish 39th in a field of 100 teams. Bigby opened the day on the track with a 28th-place finish in the 400 hurdles, running 1:02.00 to take third in heat five ahead of Morgan State’s Nichole Candelaria.
Rounding out the day in the City of Brotherly Love was Claudette Day (Belleville, Ill./Belleville West), who placed 15th in the long jump at a wind-assisted distance of 18-06.50 (5.65m).
NIU opens competition at Gina Relays
The Huskies also started competing at the Hillsdale Gina Relays Thursday with encouraging results.
In the heptathlon, senior Natalie Tarter (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) ended the first day sitting in third place. Headlining her day was a run of 15.64 in the 100 hurdles for a second-place finish.
Moments later in the 3000 steeplechase, Carly Pederson (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community) ran 12:17.23. Meanwhile, Juliane Totzke (Graefenroda, Germany/Carl Zeiss Gymnasium) led NIU with a 17:42.41 time in the 5000 meters, followed by Leah Raffety’s (Machesney Park, Ill./Harlem) 17:50.86 and Taylor Perkins’ (Lakeville, Minn./Lakeville North) mark of 19:17.09.
The action continues today at Penn and Hillsdale. In Philly, NIU’s sprinters will compete in the 100 meters, 100 hurdles and sprint medley relay. Over in Michigan, the Huskies will be represented in six different events.
For more information on NIU track and field and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.