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Monday, May 10, 2021

Western track named GNAC team of the week

Senior sprinter Alex Donigan practices on the Wade King Recreation Center track on Friday, April 10, 2015. // Archive photo by Jake Tull
Senior sprinter Alex Donigan practices on the Wade King Recreation Center track on Friday, April 10, 2015. // Archive photo by Jake Tull

When senior sprinter Alex Donigian blasted across the finish line, he knew his run for the 200-meter race had been fast. He just had no idea how fast.

“A little after the race, coach Pee Wee [Halsell] came up to me and just said 20.93 seconds,” Donigian said. “And I just fell over. I couldn’t believe it.”

Donigian, who normally sprints the 100-meter race, had just smashed the previous Great Northwest Athletic Conference record with hardly a second thought.

Meanwhile, at the Mt. Sac Relays in California, Donigian’s teammate, senior steeplechase runner Matthew Lutz, was preparing to break a record of his own.

“Having big performances can give people confidence and help them perform better. Then come GNAC time there are no questions asked, we’re champions.”

Senior sprinter Alex Donigian

For 27 years, Kirby White’s mark of 9 minutes, 10.67 seconds had stood as the school record before Lutz shattered it by nearly 10 seconds.

“Throughout the race I could look at the clock and I could tell I was on the verge,” said Lutz. “But as I was sprinting down the home stretch as fast as I could, I didn’t know if I was going to break that nine-minute mark.”

Lutz did break it, putting up a run of 8 minutes, 59.97 seconds. That time placed him as fourth best in GNAC history and one of only three runners who have posted under nine-minute runs this season.

Donigian and Lutz’s success was just a part of a strong week for the Vikings. The team participated in four separate races across Oregon and California, their busiest weekend of the season. Nine different Vikings had top-10 finishes, and Western won the GNAC Team of the Week award for April 11-17.

“It’s really good to see that success as we’re getting ready for the championship season,” Halsell said. “That is what the regular season is for, so it’s good to see that success in California and Oregon.”

The team still trails The University of Alaska Anchorage in the conference by a substantial margin, 70 points, but is using this positive momentum to keep running forward.

“Making up 70 points will be a challenge, but I think winning GNAC Team of the Week shows that we are starting that foundation to build a successful team,” Donigian said. “Having big performances can give people confidence and help them perform better. Then come GNAC time there are no questions asked, we’re champions.”

As conference meets and nationals inch closer, the Vikings are not planning on deviating from their original training schedule.

“What we really want the kids to do is enjoy the journey and believe in what they’re doing,” Halsell said. “If they do that and go out and do their best, that’s all we’re going to ever ask.”

With a new boost of momentum and a busy season ahead, the team is looking positively toward the future and upcoming meets.

“Each meet is an opportunity to go out and do your best,” Halsell said. “We look at each opportunity as a great chance to go out and perform.”

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