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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Western preps for GNAC tourney with final home track meet

By Mckenna Hunt

Western hosted the 37th annual Ralph Vernacchia Track Meet on Saturday, April 28. at Civic Stadium. // Photo by Mckenna Hunt

Even with the wind and the rain, the Vikings came to compete at their last home meet of the outdoor season on Saturday, April 28.

Both the women’s and men’s team placed first overall with the women racking up a total of 147.5 points and the men at 184 points.

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The 37th annual Ralph Vernacchia Track Meet, held at Civic Stadium and hosted by Western, proved to be a successful day for the Vikings as many athletes won their events and attempted to beat their personal records, despite the stormy weather.

Pee Wee Halsell, head coach of the track team, said that so far he’s seen some good stuff from his athletes, including junior high jumper Maddie Taylor. Taylor won her flight with a height of 1.63 meters, just short of her personal record.

“Maddie went at PR heights and I think that’s happening in the hammer,” Halsell said. “Brandon Pless was getting there and Avery Lux was getting out there with some PR’s as well so the weather shouldn’t affect it.”

Bryan Lee, junior and officiater of the hammer and discus throws, confirmed that Pless and Lux were doing well in their throws with Pless winning his flight and Lux following close behind in third.

Redshirt Avery Lux PR’d by a meter and a half and threw 174-feet while senior Brandon Pless threw two feet under his PR.

In addition to Western athlete’s, some Western alumni showed up to compete against their former teammates.  

In the javelin, Western alumni Bethany Drake and Katie Reichert placed first and second, with sophomore Raquel Pellecer following in third.

Pellecer was hoping to hit the automatic national provisional mark of 50.03 meters, which would confirm her spot to nationals, but was just short with a mark of 47.18 meters, which has been a consistent mark for her throughout the season, according to past meet markings.

Junior javelin thrower, Alex Barry won his flight with 60.87 meters but came up a little short of his PR of 64.77 meters.

“I won, which was a bonus but I threw 15-feet under my PR,” Barry said.

Barry has been battling numerous injuries including a strained groin and tendinitis in his elbow and leg but will still head into the Greater Northwest Athletic Conference Championship ranked No. 1.

“I’m just trying to win conference for my team,” Barry said.

Tupre Wickliff, junior high jumper, proved to be another strong competitor who won his flight in 1.98 meters and currently is leading the GNAC rankings.

“Going into this meet I just wanted to get some good jumps out,” Wickliff said.

Wickliff said he had some good attempts at 6 feet 10 inches, which if hit, would’ve secured his spot for nationals.

“GNAC is where I’ll hit 6’10” and 6’11” and then get that nationals spot,” Wickliff said. “Overall I think it went really well. It’s been a really consistent season so I’m happy.”

Assistant coach Eric Dudley explained his goals for the last home meet.

“It’s late in the season so we’re trying to get people qualifying marks to get on the bus for the GNAC championships in two weeks,” Dudley said.

Hosting the meet at their home field may also prove to be an advantage, Dudley said.

“I feel like you have a little more control over your environment and that feeling of control tends to lead to great performances,” Dudley said.

Dudley also explained that having family, friends and alumni out to watch creates a great vibe and a feeling of support for the athletes.

Dudley said he was confident that his athletes would perform well under the weather circumstances.

“You know we’ve run fast in the rain before and we’ll run fast in the rain again if we have to,” Dudley said.

The Vikings are set to compete at the GNAC Championships at Western Oregon University May 11-12.

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