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Kraule’s record-breaking pentathlon caps strong week

Senior Eliza Kraule, senior Tara Simpson- Sullivan and senior Alexander Slinkman pose at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Boston. Kraule broke Rice and AAC records in the pentathlon at the meet. Courtesy Rice Athletics

By Andersen Pickard     3/19/24 10:37pm

Rice’s track and field program was represented in both the men’s and women’s departments at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Boston from March 7-9. 

Senior Eliza Kraule finished fifth in the women’s pentathlon with 4,353 points. She set a personal best and also broke both Rice and American Athletic Conference records. Along the way, she secured First Team All-American honors for the first time in her career. 

“Following the pentathlon event-by-event was a true treat,” head coach Jim Bevan said. “To put together a performance like this in her first national meet is a true testament to Eliza’s competitiveness and resilience while overcoming adversity. She’s had three pentathlons this indoor season and has had three consecutive personal bests. What more can you ask for?”

Kraule continued to set personal bests with a 6.36-meter long jump — which placed first in the event — and a 2:22.74 finish in the 800-meter run where she came in ninth. 

The women’s team was also represented by senior Tara Simpson-Sullivan, whose 20.92-meter weight throw ranked 12th among competitors. Simpson-Sullivan exceeded expectations after she entered the field as the No. 15 seed.

The men’s team also sent a representative to the championships in senior Alexander Slinkman, who finished seventh in the pole vault and earned First Team All-American honors for the first time in his career. Slinkman missed his first two bars before clearing the 5.30-meter bar. He also cleared the 5.40-meter bar on his first attempt.

“When Slinkman missed his first two bars, that was stressful,” head coach Jon Warren said. “However, he rebounded well and cleared the very next one, too. I am very proud of him to bounce back from conference and earn First Team All-American honors. Every year, this is one of the greatest sporting events in the world.”

While much of the Rice community embarked on spring break getaways, the track and field teams continued to compete. At the University of Texas at San Antonio Invitational on March 15 and 16, Rice was represented by several competitors on the podium.

For the men’s team, senior Sam Welsh led the way as the lone first-place finisher with a 57.46-meter discus throw, which was more than seven meters farther than second place. 

Junior Cal Abdulky and senior Shaun Kerry finished second and third, respectively, in the hammer throw. Junior Jorge Hinojosa placed second in the shot put and third in the discus throw. Freshman Christian Edgar finished the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 14.41 seconds, which was just 0.06 seconds out of first place.

Rice also placed on the podium in the 4x400-meter relay; their 3:18.26 time ranked second behind a group from Our Lady of the Lake University.

The women’s team wasn’t represented on a field podium until Saturday when freshman Josie Taylor finished third with a 1.7-meter result in the high jump. Senior Morgan Fey also finished third with a 46.67-meter discus throw.

On the track side, Rice women led the way with a first-place finish in the 4x100-meter relay, edging out their only opponent, a team from Our Lady of the Lake University, by nearly four seconds. Rice also placed on the podium with a time of 3:48.70 in the 4x400-meter relay, finishing third. 

The Owls were represented in individual track competitions, too, as senior Kennedy Gamble placed second in the 100-meter dash (11.48 seconds).

Two other events filled the men’s schedule over spring break, including the Kirk Baptiste Spring Break Invitational at the University of Houston on March 14. Sophomore Matt Kumar landed on the podium after his 5.05-meter pole vault while Edgar finished third in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 14.20 seconds.

The men’s final competition of the week came at the Texas Southern University Relays on March 15 and 16. Rice occupied all three spots on the podium for the men’s mile with sophomore Andrew Murray finishing first (4:05.45), followed by junior Elliot Metcalf (4:10.07) and sophomore Gus Gannon (4:16.37). 

The Owls’ season is still young, but a home meet is fast approaching. Rice will host the 41st Annual Victor Lopez Classic this week, with collegiate events scheduled for March 22 and 23.

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