Redlands Track Reflects on Record Setting Season
With 27 All-Region selections, 11 national qualifiers, one national champion, and countless achievements along the way, the University of Redlands men’s and women’s track & field teams enjoyed an unforgettable season during the 2017 campaign. As a team, the Bulldog women finished second among the highly-competitive Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC), while the Redlands men took fifth in the standings. However, the year was sprinkled with endless highlights that extended well beyond the conference into a national presence with a top-10 ranking by season’s end.
The Maroon and Gray went to Arizona to take on a high-quality field of student-athletes at the NAU Tune-Up Meet. Senior Alison Smith and freshman Jessica Fields lined up for the 60-meter Hurdles and blew past most competitors, which included some NCAA Division I sprinters. Smith sped through the hurdles and clocked an impressive time of 8.87 seconds for third place. With this time in the books, Smith landed tied-for-second in all of NCAA Division III for the indoor season. Fields closely followed for fifth place with a time of 9.05 seconds.
Following the indoor portion of the season, Redlands earned 13 All-Region awards from the U.S. Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). Smith collected a team-high three awards, earning the honor for the 60 Hurdles, Pentathlon, and Shot Put. Sophomore Kara Romani added two All-Region nods (Long Jump, Pentathlon) to her résumé, while junior Vanessa Blanchard, freshman Chyenne Kimble, Widen, and Fields completed the recipients for the women’s team. The Bulldog men were represented by junior hurdler Afari La-Anyane, sophomore Luke Bohlinger long jump.
The month of March kicked off with the opening SCIAC Multi-Dual Meet at Pomona-Pitzer Colleges. The Bulldog teams each prevailed over Whittier College, Chapman University, and Pomona-Pitzer in a solid outing. The Redlands women notched five first-place results, seven second-place marks, and eight third-place showings in an impressive day. The Bulldog men posted eight winning performances, five second-place finishes, and three third-place efforts. Among the many highlights of the meet, Fields won the 400 Hurdles with a season-best time of 64.34, as Romani took third with a career-best time of 67.57. Romani also leaped to a season-best mark of 17′ 11″ in the Long Jump to take home the gold. The 4×100 Relay of junior Sophie Brooks, senior Jasmine Ramos, Kimble, and Smith crossed the finish line first with a winning time of 48.61. For the men, senior Myles Speegle and Bohlinger teamed up for a great 1-2 punch in the 100 Meters. Speegle prevailed with a time of 10.92, as Bohlinger quickly followed in 10.94 for the fastest time of his career. The pair traded places in the 200, with Bohlinger winning this one in 22.48, while Speegle completed the race in 22.56. Finally, sophomore Matthew Hayashi recorded a pair of gold-medal and career-best heaves in the shot put (45′ 9 ¼”) and Hammer Throw (142′ 3″).
During the month of March, the Maroon and Gray had the pleasure of hosting the Redlands Invitational on Ashel Cunningham Track in Ted Runner Stadium. With excitement and energy, the Bulldogs compiled outstanding results in multiple events, as highlighted by the women’s 4×100 Relay that scorched the school record. The talented quartet of Brooks, Kimble, Ramos, and Smith ran a blistering time of 47.70 to not only win the race but improve upon the Bulldogs’ standard by 0.60 in an impressive feat. Furthermore, freshman Maliq Champion cleared a winning height of 6′ 6 ½” in only his second meet of his young college career to rank third among NCAA Division III this season.
The Bulldogs finished off a strong April with the SCIAC Championships, as the women took second and the men finished fifth during the two days of exciting competition. Blanchard nabbed the Maroon and Gray’s first individual title of the meet when she won the high jump with a height of 5′ 3 ¾”. Smith followed that up by defending her title in the 100 meter hurdles with a conference-meet record time of 14.20. She also ran the fastest 100-meter time (12.17) of the season for the Bulldogs in her second-place showing. La-Anyane won the 110 hurdles with an impressive time of 15.26, while Burchett ran a blistering, career-best time of 53.44 for first place in the 400 Hurdles. Senior Sam Yaeger (Mission Viejo, CA) recorded his third career-best mark of the campaign in the throwing events, with this one coming in the Shot Put at 46′ 3 ¼”. In addition, the Bulldogs collected a total of 19 All-SCIAC awards for finishing in the top three of the final results of the conference championships.
Just prior to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, it was announced that the Redlands women rocketed up the USTFCCCA Division III rankings to No. 10 in the nation. The team had steadily climbed up the top-25 poll throughout the year, culminating in this high position in the final regular-season ranking.
On the final day of the three-day national meet, Smith captured the individual national championship in the 100 hurdles. Despite competing in the heptathlon and 4×100 relay prior to her hurdle final, she ran the only sub-14-second time of the race when she crossed the finish line in 13.98.