Track & Field gets ready for the Pacific University Invitational
By Peter Melling /// Sports Editor
Following a successful series of invitationals, the men’s and women’s Track & Field team is gearing up for the final stretch of their season. On April 11, they will attend the Pacific Luau, hosted by Pacific University at Hanson Stadium in Forest Grove, Oregon. This is one of the premier events on the Pioneer’s schedule, as not only will most of the Northwest Conference be in attendance, but it will also be one of the last chances that the Pios will get to gauge the competition before their home invite and championship meet. What is at stake at this event, and how will it shape the final meets of the season?
The Pacific Luau Invitational, which is part of Pacific University’s annual luau festival, presents some of the toughest competition the Pios have faced this season. Not only is this the first time that the Pios will face five other NWC teams at an invite (George Fox University, Linfield College, Pacific University, Pacific Lutheran University and The University of Puget Sound), but they will also face these teams just as they hit their stride for their final meets and the championship meet. Linfield poses the greatest challenge, as their men’s and women’s teams are ranked #42 and #62 respectively. George Fox also looks to take the crown at the Luau, with the ranked #7 women’s team and #61 men’s team.
In spite of the competition’s strength, the Pios have gotten into their season’s groove. The youth movement has progressed well amongst the runners, especially first-years Jeff Mullins (’18), Blake Slattengren (’18) and Amelia Jackson (’18). Veterans have also made extensive contributions to the different divisions of the team, such as runner Susan Heinselman (’15), hurdler (and NWC Athlete of the Week) Kodie Artner (’16) and jumper Alexi Shean (’16). This meet will give the Pios (the entire team this time, as throwers will also compete at the meet) a great opportunity to gauge teams as they hit their stride and shape the team’s trajectory towards the championship meet.