by Alejandra Cruz
With new runners, two new coaches and a new season, the Leopard track team tested its talent at the Caltech Invitational Saturday, Feb. 24, in Pasadena.
Optimistic La Verne worked together against Whittier, Concordia, Chapman, Pomona-Pitzer and junior colleges.
Overall, the women had a successful meet, finishing second to Concordia with 91 points, while the men finished fourth with 78 points.
“We’re going to get better,” said assistant coach Robert Sprung, who has been with the team for three weeks. Sprung was head coach of the Upland High School track team before coming to the University. “Not a lot of other schools see the La Verne track team as a threat, we’re hoping we can make them sweat a bit.”
Both head coach Pat Widolff and Sprung viewed the invitational as a practice meet.
“We’re trying to get in shape for the season and trying to get quality work-outs,” said Sprung.
It appears that quality workouts paid off for senior Erika Spencer, who broke the school record for the women’s high jump with 5’ 3/4”.
Workouts also aided key runner junior Jill Perkins, who took first in the women’s 5,000-meter run with a time of 19 minutes and 13.87 seconds. She also took second place in the women’s 3,000-meter with 11:06.07.
Freshman Lyn Merrill took third in the same event followed by freshman Eren Piceno who received fifth. Junior Beverly Wilson took sixth.
In the men’s races, junior Gilbert Gomez received fourth place and freshman Jeremy Gonzales finished 13th in the 15,000-meter.
Junior Anthony Hayes won first place in the 100-meter with a time of 11.07. Junior Liron Wilson took third place in the same event with 11.15. He was followed by juniors Jason Neal and Anthony Rice, sophomore Marc Tyler, freshman Ordell Williams, junior Roman Holston, who came in 10th place and senior Chris Malone who took 13th place.
Senior Tori Bare and freshman Kenita Lewis ran the 100- and 200-meter dashes. Bare received second place with 13.52 in the 100, while Lewis took 13th with 15.52. Freshman LaShanda Maze received 15th with a time of 15.56.
In the 200-meter, Bare took third with 27.22, while Lewis received sixth with 29.54.
“It’s OK for being the beginning of the season,” said Bare about her performance. The four-year track veteran felt that the upcoming season would be the team’s best yet.
“There are more people. There’s more depth and talent than I’m used to seeing,” said Bare.
Bare, along with senior Kari Trotter, junior Jennifer Zwissler and Maze, composed the women’s 4×400-meter relay team and took third place.
Bare and Zwissler joined freshman Kenia Magallanes and Trotter to compose the second place, 4×1,600-meter relay team A with a time of 4:21.82. Team B, which consisted of Beverly Wilson, Lewis, Maze and Piceno, finished fourth.
In the men’s 4×400-meter relay, La Verne’s team A won with a time of 43.39. The team included junior Eric Gleason, Holston, Malone and Hayes. Team B took sixth with 47.37. The team was comprised of Neal, Wilson, Williams and Tyler.
The men’s 4×1,600-meter relay team finished first out of a field of eight teams with a time of 3:27.12. The team consisted of Gleason, Malone, Hayes and Wilson.
“We have a good start, but we have a long way to go,” said Trotter.
Bare and Trotter compared the different coaching styles they are presented with and said that Sprung deals on a one to one basis with the runners, while Widolff is more technically-minded and coaches the team as a group.
Trotter was also involved in the women’s 800-meter and took 12th place while Zwissler took 10th with 2:38.76. Wilson finished 14th with 3:03.70 while Jackie Serrano took 15th with 3:05.10.
Spencer received third in the women’s javelin with a distance of 108’, while junior Jacqui Zwissler took fifth with 98’ 11”.
In the men’s javelin competition, junior Carl Caston received second placed with 148’ 4”. Junior Ian Castro-Davis placed eighth and Ben Adams received 15th.
Williams received fourth in the men’s 200-meter with 23.23 while Malone took sixth and Holston took eighth.
Williams also participated in the 800-meter, where he received ninth place with 2:6.83, followed by Gleason in 10th place and Gomez in 14th place.
In the women’s discus, freshman Eboni White took eighth. She also participated in shot put, where she placed second out of seven other schools.
Merrill participated in the women’s 1,500-meter and took ninth place. While Serrano took 11th and Magallanes received 12th.
The women’s 200-meter held promise for Bare, who received third place while her teammate Lewis took sixth.
Widolff said he was very content with the meet and felt confident of the season ahead.
The team’s next meet is March 2 at Caltech at 11 a.m. It will compete against SCIAC opponents Occidental, Redlands and host Caltech. On March 16, La Verne will compete in the Santa Barbara Relays.