Sophomore Frank Cerar competes in the 400m run at the St. Norbert College Easter Twilight Invitational in De Pere, Wisc. on Thursday, April 13, 2017. (Cable Photo/Jimmy Lovrien)

Track & Field Compete in Phil Esten Challenge and Holst Invitational

Dylan Zimmerman

The College of St. Scholastica men’s and women’s track and field teams competed in two separate events this past weekend. The Phil Esten Challenge, which was hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, featured three Saints earning personal-best performances on Thursday and Friday. The rest of the team traveled to Concordia University-St. Paul on Saturday to compete in the Holst Invitational.

Hannah Russert kicked things off Thursday afternoon at the Phil Esten Challenge, competing in the heptathlon throughout both days. By the time day one had come to a close at Eau Claire, Russert found herself in the lead after great performances in the 100m hurdles and the 200m dash. Friday featured three more events, where Russert placed fourth in two of them and seventh with a personal-best in the 800m run. Her strong start on Thursday helped propel her to a third overall place finish as she finished with a personal-best total of 4,069 points.

The second Saint to compete at Phil Esten on Thursday was Frank Cerar, who competed in the decathlon. Out of the 16 competitors, Cerar closed out day one in fifth place after two personal-best finishes in the 100m dash and the 400m dash. He rolled this momentum over into Friday, placing second in the discus and third in the pole vault to solidify his overall place of fourth in the competition.

Lastly, Taylor Gibson stamped her name in the CSS record books on Friday in the 800m run. Her second-place finish of 2:14.71 was good enough to be the fastest NCAA Division III athlete in the event, and more importantly it broke the previous program record that had been in place since 2010.

Moving on to Saturday in St. Paul, where a majority of the Saints had competed this past weekend, featured more personal-best performances. Easton Foss recorded a personal-best time of 9:51.28 in the 300m steeplechase, which earned him fourth (first out of NCAA Division III runners). Brittany Ludwig threw a season-best mark in the discus throw, and matching her with a season-best performance of her own was Elizabeth Poski in the 5000m run. The last personal-best recording to come through was Mia Rudeck’s clearing height of 10’0.5” in the pole vault. Rudeck also placed sixth out of the field of pole vaulters, which came as a bit of a shock to her considering the competition was so strong.

“When I first looked at the heat sheets prior to the meet, I was sitting in the middle of the pack,” said freshman Mia Rudeck. “Some of the women were going nearly 12 feet, so naturally I was a bit nervous since I won the meet prior with a ten-foot vault. I honestly didn’t think that I would do that well in comparison to the rest of the competitors, but it was a pleasant surprise at the end of the day.”

Personal-best heights aren’t a shock themselves for Rudeck anymore, as this is already the third time this outdoor season she has accomplished it despite clearing a lesser height while training.

“In practice, I only practice with a bungee sitting around 9’6”, so going to a meet and attempting heights greater than that is really intimidating,” said Rudeck. “Meaning that being able to vault ten feet is something I’m really proud of.”

Warm weather may have made a direct impact on the personal-best performances for the Saints, as the body tends to loosen up with warmer temperatures.

“I would say yes, the warm weather always makes times drop,” said junior Sammi Argir. “Weather wise, it was the best meet of the season so far. It plays a pretty big role in how people do overall. When it’s warm out, it’s easier to warm up and stay warm versus when it’s cold, so you don’t have to worry as much about getting hurt in shorter sprints.”

Argir herself had a personal-best finish in the 400m as far as her outdoor competition career goes, running a final time of 1:01.62.

The Saints will now travel to Winona next weekend to compete in the Saint Mary’s University Open.