Catching fire on the track
Linfield track and field has broken the ice.
Now, the Wildcats are ready to break some personal records.
Heptathletes Dallas Edge, Joy Harpham and Brenna Stinson are participating at the Boxer Combined Event – held Thursday and today in Forest Grove – with most of the other track and field athletes slated to participate in the Mt. Hood Open, held Saturday at 10 a.m. on the campus of Mt. Hood Community College.
The Linfield women finished sixth at the Northwest Conference championships in 2013, and the men finished eighth. The women are positioned for success across the board, according to Wildcats head coach Travis Olson, with a cadre of strong sprinters and field athletes and “up-and-coming” hurdles and distance racers.
“We’re looking pretty good,” Olson said. “We feel like we have a lot of good vets with a mixture of young up-and-comers.”
All eyes throughout the season will be on Linfield throwers Anna LaBeaume and Kate Shear. LaBeaume, a Sequim, Wash., native, hopes to add to her four individual Northwest Conference championships in the hammer throw and shot put and return to the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the hammer. Shear, a Knappa native, holds the Linfield school record in the javelin (141 feet, 7 inches); she missed most of 2013 due to injury but managed a fifth-place finish at the NWC Championships last season.
“We’re hoping those two will finish their careers at nationals,” Olson said.
Junior Ellie Schmidt, a Dundee native and Newberg High School graduate, earned NWC Women’s Track Athlete of the Week honors on Monday after winning the 100-meter (12.83 seconds) and 200-meter (26.38) dashes at the Rich Allen Classic on March 8 in Newberg. Schmidt’s 100-meter time ranks 10th on Linfield’s record list. Wildcats freshman Haley Pattishal, a McMinnville High School graduate, will also look to contribute for the Wildcats.
On the men’s side, the Wildcats have five seniors and four juniors on the team’s 37-person roster. Olson is confident in the abilities of Linfield’s distance group, led by senior Joe Gladow and freshman Michael O’Neil. Freshmen Eric Igbinoba and Kennedy Johnson, both members of the Wildcats football team, have added depth to the horizontal jumps, and freshman sprinter Jake Mihelic is expected to be a conference contender at 200 and 400 meters.
“We’re not very deep,” Olson said. “It kind of makes it difficult if someone gets hurt or training doesn’t go as you want it to. I still feel good about some of the people we have. I think we’re on our way up, for sure.
After this weekend’s events, Linfield has four meets remaining on its schedule – including the Jenn Boyman Memorial Invitational at Maxwell Field on April 5 – before the NWC Championships, held April 25-26 in Tacoma, Wash. The NCAA Division III Outdoor Championships will take place May 22-24 in Delaware, Ohio.
“We have to make sure we’re real careful with our training and make it clear that once spring break hits, we have to continue to do stuff because our conference meet is so early,” Olson said. “The third week in April is coming up on us really quick.”