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Sports Track and Field

Drake captures four MVC championships

Story by Taylor Soule
File Photo

TrackBW-w2000-h2000Drake University track and field totaled four titles at the Missouri Valley Conference Championships in Cedar Falls, Iowa this past weekend.

Senior thrower Isaac Twombly opened the competition with a Bulldog statement, thanks to a winning performance in the men’s weight throw on Saturday. Twombly shattered his own school record with a toss of 68-7.25 to claim the MVC title.

Twombly, who sits at No. 14 in the nation, was shocked after his victory.

“Going into it, I told myself I was going to win the championship,” Twombly said. “I didn’t think I actually believed it until that throw. It was an amazing feeling and something I’ve always looked at and never thought I could achieve. Everything kind of fell into place.”

A Valley win in the weight throw seldom crossed Twombly’s mind to start the season, as he dealt with a nagging hand injury. Now, with a No. 14 ranking and a title to his name, Twombly has high hopes as indoor season winds down.

“I didn’t expect it at all,” Twombly said. “I had fractured my hand toward the end of the fall and didn’t think that I would go very far. My original goal at the beginning of the year was to throw at least 60 feet, and I actually threw that on my very first throw. Now, looking ahead, my goals are to, one, qualify to go to nationals, and two, have a throw of 70 feet and become an All-American.”

The Bulldogs added three titles on Sunday with victories in the women’s 60-meter hurdles, men’s 5,000 meters and men’s 4×400-meter relay.

Senior hurdler Sarah Yeager triumphed in the 60-meter hurdles with a season-best time of 8.43 seconds.

Since finishing 10th to miss the 2012 finals, Yeager has risen to the Top-50 in the nation. After eyeing the MVC title all season, her winning race felt surreal.

“The race seems like a blur when I look back at it,” Yeager said. “My start went well, I got out hard. All the other competitors, it was a really good field this year, so they helped push me along, and it went down to the very last little lean.”

As NCAA qualifying approaches, Yeager looks to master a new hurdling technique, one she hopes will translate into another personal record.

“It’s more leaning forward when I’m hurdling,” Yeager said. “I sit up, so leaning forward, to come off of the hurdle quicker.”

In distance action, freshman Taylor Scholl paced Drake with a time of 5:08.21 in the mile to finish 14th. Sophomore Melissa Parks crossed the finish line in 5:13.01 to take 20th place.

In field competition, senior Briana Isom-Brummer and freshman Jaclyn Aremka reached 5-5.00 in the high jump to claim 10th and 11th, respectively.

Isom-Brummer teamed with Yeager, senior sprinter Whitney Westrum and freshman Virginia Hill in the 4×400. The Drake ‘A’ relay finished sixth with a time of 3:55.35.

The Drake men claimed a pair of titles on Sunday to total three on the weekend. Junior Brogan Austin won the 5,000 meters, clocking 14:21.36.

After battling anemia throughout the 2012 cross country season, Austin was relieved after his triumph in the 5,000 meters.

“It was a really big deal just to get my confidence and to be happy again with my running and where it’s going,” Austin said.

In sprints action, the Bulldog team of juniors Brett Wright, Ian Wells and Travis Marsh and freshman Scott Goad captured the 4×400-meter relay title with a time of 3:18.99. In the 400 meters, Wright and Wells placed third and seventh, respectively. Wright registered a time of 49.30. Wells finished in 50.06 seconds.

Freshman Ryan Cook led Drake in field competition on Sunday with a mark of 6-8.00 in the high jump, ranking second.

The Bulldogs await a trio of chances to qualify for the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships. Drake will compete at the Nebraska Last Chance on Friday in Lincoln, Neb. That same day, the Bulldogs will open the two-day Notre Dame Last Chance meet in South Bend, Ind. Drake will close the weekend with the Iowa State Last Chance at 8 a.m. on Saturday in Ames.

All three meets promise high stakes as Drake aims to qualify for the March 8-9 NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark.

After the NCAA Indoor Championships, the Bulldogs open their outdoor season at the March 22-23 Arizona State Invitational in Tempe, Ariz. With illness behind him, Austin expects his years of training to translate into a record-breaking indoor campaign.

“Hopefully, I will be breaking some records,” Austin said. “Running takes time to get better. It’s always the juniors and seniors who are running the fast times and maybe a few outliers in the freshmen. You just have to hunker down and wait for your training to take hold. I am finally reaping the benefits of all the years I have been training. I am just going to put it all to work and do some big things outdoors.”

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