MONMOUTH — With near perfect weather conditions to buffer the enthusiasm, Western Oregon University’s track and field team set more than 30 personal records on Friday at the John Knight Twilight event at MacArthur field in Monmouth.
Six Wolves walked away that evening with event titles, while six more earned a runner-up result in their event.
Overall, it was a good day to be a Wolf.
In the 1,500 meters, Kennedy Rufener swept past the finish line at 4:38.79, pulling up at about 300 meters and taking the lead.
“I haven’t raced a 1,500 in two years,” Rufener said, “so it was kinda just a brush-up before a 10k in two weeks, just to see where I was at. I felt really good; the last 300 (meters) I picked it up, and I finished good, I think.”
Justin Crosswhite and Tyler Jones took 1-2 for the men’s competition, with 3:54.72, and 3:55.88, respectively. David Ribich and Justin Nading led the pace for the first three laps, dropping off at the end to let Crosswhite and Jones tear down the track for a win.
Olivia Woods set a new school record for the 400 meters, racing across the finish line at 56.01.
“I came in not really having expectations other than just, like, have fun,” Woods said. “Usually the weather’s horrible at this meet, so this was a very nice surprise, so I was just gonna run. It was really great.”
Fellow Wolves Megan Rose, Suzanne Van De Grift, and Grayson Burke followed right behind Woods with 57.19, 57.24, and 57.43, respectively.
After their race, head coach Mike Johnson was seen looking ecstatic, patting Van De Grift on the back with congratulations on the Wolves domination in the first heat.
“He just likes to see the four of us come out and run the 400,” Van De Grift said. “I’m an 800 runner, well, we’re all kinda 800 runners now, and I run the mile, so I think it’s fun for him to see us come out and run a good 400.”
In the field events, Jackson Stellard sailed to a career best with 14-3 1/4 in the pole vault while Jalon Fields also nabbed a career best in the triple jump, with 45-7 3/4.
Five Wolves competed in the men’s hammer, and all five took home lifetime bests, with Logan Barker taking the highest place with a third-place result after releasing a 143-10.
Having great weather for a track meet helps not only the performances but the morale, as well.
“The conditions were really good,” Nick Sieber, a hammer-thrower, said. “It was really nice and sunny so that was good; it’s one of our first, like really nice, sunny outdoor meets so that was nice.”
Darian Wilson, a freshman, qualified for nationals earlier this year, and her throw of 144-5 on Friday bettered that qualifying performance.
Halie Korf snatched a career best in the women’s discus; Moana Gianotti also nabbed a career best in the women’s hammer.
The John Knight Twilight event is set mid-season for a reason, according to Johnson, as it lets him and the athletes see where they’re at on a performance level.
“If you take the same jump shot from the same place, you never get better,” Johnson said, “you never expand your range, OK, so we take people and move ‘em into other activities, other races, and experiment a little bit. Now that’s for some of the people; for others, this is perfect because this is totally at their level. The meet serves many, many purposes.”
Saturday, the Wolves traveled to McMinnville for the Jenn Boyman Memorial Invitational, and next weekend, they race in Portland at the Lewis and Clark Invitational.