MIAC sports roundup, track and field athletes compete at day one of nationals


The St. Thomas women’s distance medley relay took fourth place Friday night and recorded five team points in the first day of the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Grinnell, Iowa, leaving them in a four-way tie for 17th.

The women’s team had four athletes competing in two events. The medley relay team, comprised of freshman Kayla Goeman, sophomore Emily Van Heel, senior Larissa Peyton and junior Taylor Berg, clocked 11:53.21.

“It was great; we all had really good times,” Van Heel said. “We were all pumped; it was only our second time running it, so I think everyone did awesome actually.”

For Peyton, it was her first trip to nationals, and she said her team exceeded her expectations.

“We were ranked ninth going in, so I was crossing my fingers for eighth place,” Peyton said. “It’s cool that we all had such a contributing factor to it (the fourth-place finish). Each of us were so important, and I think that just makes me happy.”

Van Heel is seeded 15th in Saturday’s triple jump.

“Last I came in seeded in last place too, and I pulled off eighth place somehow,” Van Heel said. “I think a lot of people perform differently at nationals. Being in last place, there’s not so much pressure and expectations. You’re just going out there to jump and hope for the best.

Two other MIAC women’s athletes scored two team points on Friday. Hamline’s Brenna Coyle placed seventh in the weight throw (56-4 1-2); and St. Olaf freshman Dani Larson tied for seventh in the high jump (5-5) and took eighth in the pentathlon (3,306 points).

The St. Thomas men did not earn any team points on Friday, but senior all-American Mike Hutton finished first in the 800 meter prelims, qualifying for Saturday’s 10-man finals.

“I talked to him (Hutton) going into it and basically just told him he’s the best 800 meter runner I’ve ever seen,” junior Eyo Ekpo said. “I just told him to go out there and do what you do, and I expect him to win it tomorrow.”

Senior all-American Ben Sathre (5,000 meters) and Ekpo (triple jump) are also seeded in the top five for Saturday’s finals.

Ekpo, who arrived in Iowa with his teammates on Wednesday, said his trip did not start off on the right foot.

“I ended up rolling my ankle,” Ekpo said. “Today I was able to get up and try sprinting and jumping after being in the training room for two full days. So far, so good. Hopefully it won’t slow me down.”

Junior Cody Jerabek, who was seeded fifth out of 13 in the 60-meter dash, was not able to compete after pulling his hamstring while filling in for the 4×200 relay team in the conference championship.

Junior Gavin Yseth and sophomore Maxwell Dunne were also in action Friday, competing in the heptathlon. Dunne finished eighth out of 13; Yseth came in 13th. Senior Dalen Dirth, twin brother of Tommie sprinter Devin Dirth, also competed in the heptathlon, finishing 12th.

Ryan Shaver can be reached at shav7005@stthomas.edu.