The John Carroll University men’s and women’s track teams kicked off the outdoor season Saturday, competing at the UNC-Charlotte 49er Classic in Charlotte, N.C.
In a field dominated by Division I teams, it was individual times and marks which mattered the most, rather than placing in each event.
“We had a really good first meet,” head coach Dara Ford said. “I feel we did a good job taking advantage of the competition and the weather this weekend.”
The Blue Streaks responded to the high level of competition with many top performances, led by David Hickey in the 400 meter hurdles. Hickey, a 2009 national qualifier in the event, ran the hurdles in 54.87. His time was good for a ninth place overall finish, and was only three-tenths of a second short from hitting the national provisional qualifying mark for the 2010 NCAA Championships.
“Dave had a great 400 hurdles, one of many very good performances of the meet,” coach Ford said.
Hickey also had a hand in another solid performance by the men’s 4×400 relay team, which finished ninth overall in 3:22.33.
The time represented a four-second improvement over the relay squad’s best effort from the 2010 indoor season.
Also performing well for the men’s team were Mike Minjock (seventh long jump, 6.67 meters) and Mike Hlatky, (seventh high jump, 1.85 meters). In placing seventh in their respective events, each was the top individual finisher for the men’s team.
“In a Division I meet like Charlotte, it’s always a good thing to see a couple of our jumpers place in the top eight,” Ford said.
In keeping with the weekend’s theme of strong showings, the women’s team had a very productive weekend as well, led by the 4×100 meter relay team of Stephanie Charlillo, Maureen Creighton, Maribeth Keppler and Maura Stepanski. The foursome, which includes three freshman runners, was only one second from setting a new school record, finishing 12th overall in 51.24.
“Almost every member of the team had a good enough meet to enter into the discussion of best JCU performance,” senior Tony Mihalich said. “But the 4×100 relay really stood out. We have some fast girls now, and the team is excited to see what they are capable of – they’re only going to get faster.”
Creighton also was close to setting a school record in the 100 meter dash, missing the mark by only four-hundredths of a second. Her time of 12.70 was good for 24th place overall in the event.
Emily Tillmaand was the top individual finisher for the team, placing sixth in the 3,000 meter run in 10:58.38. She also posted a strong effort in the 5,000 meter run, traversing the course in a personal best time of 18:33.48.
Ford was encouraged by the weekend’s performances. “I think our outlook is good for this outdoor season,” she said. “We are coming along really well, and both teams are really improving like we would like to see them. They really showed up this weekend and competed hard.”