Viking track and field broke and set schools’ records in their 2022-’23 indoor season. With the outdoor season starting up, their propensity for changing Western Washington University’s record book isn’t letting up.
The indoor season went out with a bang, with the men’s Viking distance medley relay securing a seventh-place finish at the NCAA DII Indoor Championships in Virginia Beach, Virginia on March 10. The four-man team earned first-team all-American honors.
Six Vikings on the women’s roster also earned indoor all-region honors from the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association for the 2022-’23 indoor season.
Back in Washington, the outdoor season kicked off March 3 with the Ed Boitano Invitationals in Tacoma.
Three Vikings dominated the 10,000-meter run, taking the top three spots with Andrew Oslin finishing first, Ryan Clough second and Sean Sands coming in third. With these performances, two new times were added to the Viking track and field record book.
Clough recorded the fifth-fastest time in Western history with a 10,000-meter run time of 29:55.94. Meanwhile, Oslin took the first place spot in Viking history with a time of 29:41.91, beating Bennett Grimes’s record, standing since 2010.
Sophomore Caitlyn Cheney won two races, with her performances in the 100m (12.22) and 200m (25.14) securing the seventh fastest time for both categories in Western history.
The record-setting didn’t stop there, with Mia Crocker’s 2:13.41 800m time securing her the fifth place spot in Western history.
Viking track and field distance coach T.J. Garlatz understands their success is due to everyone’s hard work and enjoyment in both practice and competition.
“When I came back to Western, one of the things I wanted to establish was that positive culture of training hard and having fun,” Garlatz said. “As student-athletes hit marks, it raises the level of expectations for what we’re capable of doing.”
Garlatz and the Vikings track and field coaching staff have a history of recording successful seasons in the past.
The men's team placed first in both the indoor and outdoor seasons last year in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships, with many more first-place finishes years prior.
The women’s team has also placed high in years past, finishing within the top three in the GNAC Championships for the last two seasons.
These successes have built trust between the coaching staff and athletes while also positively impacting the development of student-athletes.
“Coming together as a team and realizing what we’re going to do as a group is a lot bigger than what we can do individually,” Garlatz said. “So, I think we got a really positive team vibe going right now.”
Garlatz doesn’t put these athletes in positions where they can’t succeed, making realistic goals that can motivate the team.
“One of the program goals we have is to eventually be a top-10 team in Division II, and that is possible, and we’re heading in the right direction,” Oslin said.
Oslin was named the GNAC runner of the week after the Ed Boitano Invitationals.
“As a team, it was a competitive [indoor] season. The conference was a bit tough because we were just barely second place on both sides,” Oslin said. “But, it’s an entire team competition.”
With Western athletes being surrounded by high talent and hard work, they feed off of each other’s successes. Freshmen athletes take this opportunity to learn from the experience of their teammates.
Western first-year Alanna Parker said the team generally stays close, creating a mutual relationship that allows them to build off each other.
“My mentality is to work hard and try to improve the best I can,” Parker said. “It’s motivational, seeing other people doing well and wanting to do well.”
There are upcoming challenges in the schedule, with the Stanford Invitational from March 31 to April 1, and the Oregon Preview from March 17-18. Western is comfortable where they stand, as they’ve faced DI competition before in the meets held at the University of Washington during the indoor season.
With a team culture that builds the players up together, a foundation is set for Viking track and field that the team believes leads them to success.
“I wouldn’t be coaching at Western if we weren’t able to have this level of fun and teamwork,” Garlatz said. “When you’re doing something as a group and achieving something that’s bigger than yourself, that’s something that gives you pride, and it’s something that makes it rewarding.”
Kota Sato (he/him) is a sports and recreation reporter for the Front and third-year student at WWU. Majoring in news/editorial journalism, he enjoys writing most on topics that revolve around American football or basketball.