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Western track & field shatters school records at UW Invite

Five school records were broken in one weekend.

Western runner Landon Sturdevant (left) pulls ahead of Alaska Anchorage's Adrian Velasco (center) and Seattle University’s Justin Blunden (right) in the men’s 4x400 meter relay during the UW Invitational at the Dempsey Indoor Facility in Seattle, Wash. on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022. Western wins the heat with a time of 3 minutes 29.62 seconds. // Photo by Jonathan Salazar
UW invitational BODY
Third-year Cooper Cummings pole vaulting during the UW Invitational at the Dempsey Indoor Facility in Seattle, Wash. on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022. Cummings placed second overall in the men’s pole vault at 4.5 meters. // Photo by Jonathan Salazar

The women’s 20lb weight-throwing competition was the first Western Washington University record broken, but it wouldn’t be the last. 

Sophomore indoor thrower Raine Westfall broke the first school record at the University of Washington’s Dempsey Indoor Facility on Friday, Jan. 28, 2022. Westfall smashed the school’s 20lb. women’s weight-throwing competition after throwing 15.25 meters. 

The next record to fall was the men’s 60-meter hurdles. Freshman indoor hurdler Hunter Flick ran an impressive 8.07 seconds. Overall, Flick placed second at the meet. 

The last record broken on Friday was the men’s long-distance medley. Indoor sprinters Kevin McDermott (sophomore), Mark Daniels (junior), Landon Sturdevant (freshman) and Mac Franks (junior) set a new record of 9 minutes and 54.13 seconds. 

The long-distance medley wasn’t the only school record Franks would break at the invitational. On Saturday, January 29, 2022, Franks broke the men’s 800-meter record. Franks set a new school record of 1:51.47. 

As for the previous men’s 800 record holder, Franks broke his own record of 1:52.34 at the Spokane Invitational back in Dec. 2021. 

Franks said his secret to success is hard work, communicating with his coaches and a pre-race playlist. 

“I listen to EDM, like hard EDM like Excision or real Bassheads,” Franks said. “That stuff gets me super hyped.”

The next school record Franks is attempting to break is the men’s mile, he said. The current record holder is Anthony Tomsich with 4:7.06 back in 2010. Franks is currently third with 4:8.41. 

Indoor junior Ethan Sterkel broke the men’s long jump record and placed first at the meet, jumping 7.25 meters. He also placed second at the meet for the men’s high jump with 1.96 meters. 

“I love indoor season, it’s always been my favorite,” Sterkel said after returning to Dempsey, one of his favorite venues because of its raised long jump track. 

In total, five Western records were broken during the two-day invitational. 

Other notable moments:

  • Indoor senior Bryant Welch placed second in the men’s 200-meter dash with 22.57 seconds. 

  • Indoor freshman Lucas Brenek placed second in the men’s 400-meter dash with 50.23 seconds. 

  • Indoor senior Ben Malquist placed second in men’s shot put with 15.38 meters

  • The men’s indoor 4x400 meter relay placed second with 3:21.94. The relay consisted of Welch, Daniels, freshman Brian Le and freshman Jaden Edwards. 

  • Last but not least, indoor junior Cooper Cummings placed second in the men’s pole vault with 14.76 feet, a personal record. 

Cummings started his pole vaulting career sophomore year of high school. His goal for the Washington State Open and Invite on February 3, 2022 is 15 feet.

“I’m just trying to end on a high note,” Cummings said, describing the season. 

DJ Brown has been coaching pole vault at Western for two years. 

“It's a very physics-defying fun event,” said Brown. 

Brown describes the event as a combination between gymnastics and running. He coaches a smaller squad, seven athletes including Cummings. 

“Cooper is a very tough athlete. He’s very strong, he’s a very good student of track & field,” said Brown. 

The Vikings competed against several Pac-12 schools including the University of Arizona, Oregon State University, University of Utah and the University of California, Los Angeles. But for Western track & field coach Pee Wee Halsell, it was business as usual. 

“Everybody puts their shoe on the same way,” said Halsell. “ We just come in and compete.” 

Halsell is entering his 35th season coaching the Vikings, becoming Western’s longest-tenured coach. 

You can catch the Vikings in Pullman, Washington on February 3, 2022, at the WSU Open and Invite. 

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