Men's track right at home during Lopez Classic
With the outdoor season merely three weeks old, one could have easily expected some rust on the men's track team at the 29th Victor Lopez Classic held at Holloway Field and Ley Track last Friday and Saturday. But just by glancing at the results from the meet, it's clear that any growing pains didn't bother the Owls. Headlining the efforts of the team was junior Alex Zinchenko's personal best of 17.15 meters (56 feet, 3.25 inches) in the shot put that gave him a third-place finish in the event. After setting a previous best of 16.80 meters (55 feet, 1.5 inches) the week before at the Shirley Crowe Multi-Events, Zinchenko attributed the help of his coaches to allow him to break his own mark just a week later.
"My coach did a great job with training, and it's very nice to be able to compete in a meet here at Rice," Zinchenko said.
Additionally, Zinchenko placed 18th in the discus with a top throw of 42.29 meters (138 feet, nine inches), while redshirt sophomore Jack Spinks threw for 35.88 meters (117 feet, eight inches), which was good enough for 29th place. Head Coach Jon Warren (Jones '88) talked about Spinks' role with the team.
"Jack's coming off his leg injury, so we'll hold off on the high jump for him for a little while," Warren said. "But we're interested in seeing him in events like the 400 meter dash and the javelin, too."
Continuing with the field events, senior Will Meyers and redshirt freshman Nick Williams competed in the hammer throw, throwing for 42.43 meters (139 feet, two inches) and 40.88 meters (134 feet, one inch), respectively.
As Warren mentioned, Spinks threw the javelin on Saturday, placing ninth with a throw of 44.98 meters (147 feet, seven inches). His usual event, the high jump, had sophomores Ikechi Nnamani and Tyler Wiest along with redshirt sophomore Clayton Chaney participating for Rice, with Nnamani reaching a height of 2.05 meters (6 feet, 8.75 inches) to grab fifth place while Wiest took ninth place after jumping 1.95 meters (6 feet, 4.75 inches). Chaney was 13th after having a top jump of 1.90 meters (6 feet, 2.75 inches).
The long jump saw another fifth place finish for Rice as freshman Justin Gross jumped 7.25 meters (23 feet, 9.5 inches), while senior Ugo Nduaguba and freshman Ben Pressley jumped 6.91 meters (22 feet, eight inches) and 6.25 meters (20 feet, 6.25 inches) to capture 13th and 24th place, respectively. Nduaguba also picked up third place in the triple jump, his best event, with a jump of 14.51 meters (47 feet, 7.25 inches). The Rice pole vaulters finished ninth through 11th, with sophomore Alec Hsu out for the season with an undisclosed injury. Seniors Garrett Stafford and Philip Adam both had marks of 4.40 meters (14 feet, 5.25 inches), while Chaney vaulted 4.25 meters (13 feet, 11.25 inches).
Warren talked about Chaney's participation in so many different events.
"We didn't have the decathlon at this meet, so we tried to get Clayton involved in as many of the events in the decathlon as possible," Warren said.
Turning to the events on the track, the short distance events did not provide stellar results for Rice, with freshman Will Beasley finishing 14th in the 100-meter dash, and Pressley and sophomore Dylan Bradley placing 15th and 37th in the 200-meter dash, respectively. Senior Jacob Owolabi had a career day in the 400 meter dash, finishing fourth with a time of 48.54 seconds, while junior Dan Sloat ran an impressive 1:52.73 in the 800-meter run to take ninth place. The 1,500 meter run featured sophomore Alex Weinheimer taking 11th place after running the event in 3:55.52. The 3,000-meter steeplechase saw redshirt sophomore James Llamas finish fourth, while freshmen Travis Roberts and Wyatt Doop clocked times of 9:51 and 10:00 to finish eighth and ninth, respectively. Warren spoke about the freshmen adjusting to a new event in their repertoire.
"Generally, the steeplechase isn't an event at high school meets, and Travis had only run it a few times, while Wyatt had only jumped over water in practice three times," Warren said. "So they really responded to the challenge well."
Senior Michael Trejo was fourth in the 5,000-meter run, whileredshirt freshman Anthony Lauriello was 35th. The 110-meter hurdles saw junior Lee Johnson and Pressley finished sixth and thirteenth with times of 15.49 seconds and 16.23 seconds, respectively. Junior Collin Shurbet and senior Connor Hayes finished 28 hundredths of a second apart in the 400-meter hurdles to bring home third and fourth places, respectively. The 4x400 squad of Chaney, Adam, Sloat and Owolabi got fifth with a time of 3:18.28.
The team will travel to Nacogdoches, Texas to compete at the Stephen F. Austin University Invitational tomorrow.
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On Thursday, sophomore distance runner Grace Forbes proved to the rest of the country what her Conference USA opponents and Rice teammates have known for years – she’s one of the fastest runners in the country. Competing at the NCAA championships in Eugene, Ore. for the second consecutive year, Forbes, took second place in the 10,000-meter, the best finish by an Owl at the NCAAs in over a decade. According to Forbes, who missed the indoor season and the first month of the outdoor season due to extreme fatigue later diagnosed as an autoimmune disorder, the result was a testament to the work she’s put in to overcome an incredibly challenging year.
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The Conference USA outdoor track and field championships saw Rice’s men’s team place third with 121 points — their best conference championship performance since 2005 — and the women’s team place fifth with 88 points. According to men’s head coach Jon Warren, he was proud to see the work his team put in all season be on full display at the meet.