Photo courtesy of Aaron Campbell

Track and field excels in record breaking year

Throughout the Spring 2022 season, the Lewis & Clark track and field teams have had a multitude of strong individual and team performances. Only a year after the men’s team had their highest finish since 1995, the program has experienced major growth both in accomplishments and the amount of athletes competing. With over 40 individual athletes having already qualified for the Northwest Conference (NWC) Championships, the teams now have more conference qualifiers than they did team members five years ago. 

Having joined the coaching staff in 2016, Head Coach Aaron Campbell has been a major part of the program’s accelerated growth. Campbell was promoted to interim head coach in 2019, and has since worked hard on recruitment. 

“My first year here we had just over 30 athletes in the program,” Campbell said. “And this year we’re just shy of 70, so it’s a much bigger crew that we’re rolling with … Knowing we had those numbers, knowing that we had a great balance of really great upperclassmen with a really strong first year class, has really motivated us this season.”

One of the areas Campbell has seen the most improvement in is indoor track & field, which concluded on February 26 in the SPU Final Qualifier. Prior to the season’s end, there were several strong group performances, including nine top ten finishes between the indoor meets at George Fox University and Portland. Two athletes, George Karamitsos ’24 and Ellie Hull ’25, also provisionally qualified for the Division III Indoor Championships in the Women’s Mile and Men’s 3000M run. However, both came up just short in the National Qualifying Meet on March 5.  

According to Campbell, this year has featured the most indoor track competitions in program history.

“We felt that if we were going to be a great outdoor team, which was definitely our focus, then a great indoor season was essential to that end goal,” Campbell said.   

Last year, the women’s team was one point shy of their highest finish since 2013. Through standout performances from Jessica Cerne ’22, Riley Buese ’25, Olivia Farrar ’25 and Macy O’Hara ’24, they will likely improve upon that mark by season’s end. 

On April 11 and 12, Cerne competed in the heptathlon and finished in fourth place during the NWC Combined Events Championships, which was hosted by George Fox University and Pacific University. In her third NWC heptathlon, Cerne excelled in the long jump, 800M run and javelin throw, posting top two finishes in all three events. Cerne previously took home top five marks in the 200M dash and 100M hurdles during the Pacific Preview on March 26. 

Farrar cracked the top 15 in program history in the triple jump with a distance of 10.43m and remains one of the top triple and long jumpers in the conference. Buese has nationally ranked marks in both the 5k and 10k and has passed Assistant Coach Emily Thomas ’12, considered one of the greatest runners in NWC history, as having the fastest freshman 10k time in LC’s record book.

Described as an “absolute beast” by Campbell, O’Hara has also had tremendous success thus far. Despite never running track prior to this season, O’Hara has qualified for the conference championships in every event she has competed in, including the 100m, the 200m and the 400m. As a dual sport athlete who competes for the LC Varsity Women’s Soccer team, she has been able to overcome much of the learning curve in being a newly-converted sprinter. 

“You have to understand how you’re going to run around the track,” O’Hara said. “In soccer, it’s mostly motivated by the ball and your team movement. I think mentally understanding where to put your energy or when or why you need to be fast in a certain part of the track … was kind of a mental barrier that I had to figure out.”

Although originally joining track to improve her soccer abilities, where she is known for her speed as an outside forward, O’Hara has grown to love the competition and thrill of the sport. Having never participated in a multiple day track event, she has her eyes set on the upcoming conference tournament.  

“Personally, I’m really excited,” O’Hara said. “This whole season I haven’t really known exactly what to expect, but I’ve kind of used that to my advantage because I’m just there to race. I’m excited to run against faster people who push me to go faster.”

On the men’s side, Karamitsos has had an impressive first season of competition, becoming only the second LC athlete to receive All-Region honors for indoor track and field in both the 3k and 5k. He also achieved the fourth fastest time in program history in the 1500m with a time of 3:54.50 during the outdoor season. Most recently, he broke a 45-year-old school record in the 5k, running a 14:28 in the Hayward Premiere Meet on March 31. In securing that mark, Karamitsos garnered one of the top times in all of Division III. 

Karamitsos said that a key factor in his success was the time he spent preparing before the season. Having faced injuries in the past, he worked hard over the summer to be available for both track and cross country.  

“A big goal for me is consistency and staying healthy,” Karamitsos said. “I think those two things are a lot easier to focus in on than just saying, ‘Oh I want to go to nationals.’ I think that’s what made me a better athlete. It’s just staying consistent and staying healthy and being a little focused.”

Karamitsos often sets high expectations for the goals he wants to meet. Next year, he has ambitions of improving his time in the 5k and 10k and running in the low four minute mile range, with hopes of eventually breaking the conference 5k record of 14:09 later in his career. 

“Again, just numbers, but to me they carry a lot of weight because I think about them a lot,” Karamitsos said. “Running really is just a number until you kind of compete at that level and then you realize how difficult it is to do.”

Also performing well for the men’s team are first-years Max Aldrich ’25 and Liam Rickey ’25, who have qualified in a wide range of events, including the 800m, the 1500m and the 10k. There are a number of other student athletes who have qualified in individual events as well, which according to Campbell is a major step in the right direction, as it gives them more opportunities to score points during the intra-conference competition. 

Moving forward, LC’s Men’s and Women’s Track and Field teams will compete in the L&C Invite on April 16 before traveling to Tacoma, Washington for the NWC Championships on April 22 and 23. With more student athletes set to compete in the festivities than ever before, and a number of historic performances already in the books, the men’s and women’s teams will look to improve upon their respective 5th and 7th place rankings from last season and increase the standing of the program.

“The big goal is that we want to be the best that we can be,” Campbell said. “If we do that, I think we can be one of the better teams in the conference.” 

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