Track & Field Posts Steller Outdoor Season Debut
LAS VEGAS – The Utah track & field team had a great start to the outdoor season on Saturday at the UNLV Winter Challenge with a couple Utes winning their respective races while others made their collegiate debuts or debuts in an event with top-10 finishes inside the Myron Partridge Track Stadium.
"Really impressed with how we performed, especially our young gals in their first outdoor meet as freshmen really did a nice job," head coach Kyle Kepler said. "I thought they competed well; we won some events and had some lifetime bests. Just a lot of things. Ruby and Whit winning their events was great too. Our freshmen all ran really well and that was impressive."
Whitney Hessler and Anna Busatto got the outdoor season started on the right foot for Utah as her and Busatto crossed the finish line 1-2 for the Utes in the 1500m while also claiming four of the top-five spots. Hessler clocked in at 4:35.08 while Busatto registered a new PR at 4:46.25. In addition, Claire Rusovick (4:51.96) took fourth for Utah with Megan Curtin right behind her for fifth at 5:02.23.
"Whitney, 4:35, was pretty much solo; at the end anyway. She was really being aggressive getting out and getting after it, which I thought was impressive. It was debut in that event. It's not easy when you're doubling up your race distance from what you normally run and from what your primary event is so all around it was a great weekend for us."
Brooke Manson and Annie Murdock had great runs for Utah as well with the two completing the 400m in second and third, respectively. Manson clocked in at 57.48 while Murdock posted a time of 57.64 in her first collegiate outdoor race.
All four runners for Utah in the 800m placed in the top-10 led by Manson's second-place finish at 2:14.20. Fresh off her double-overtime win with the soccer squad Thursday night, Brooklyn James clocked in at 2:14.70 for fourth in her first race of the season – indoor or outdoor. Jasie York came in right after James at 2:16.02 while Curtin rounded out the top-10 finishes for Utah in ninth.
Ruby Jane Mathewson had a fantastic start to her outdoor season and won the 400m hurdles with a PR time of 1:02.16 after racing in this even for the first time since the end of the 2019 outdoor season. Freshman Bailey Kealamakia also got off to a wonderful start to the outdoor season, taking a spot on the podium with a third-place finish (1:04.21) in her first 400m hurdles race ever.
Making her collegiate debut, Delaney Gates took seventh in the long jump with a leap of 5.33m on her third try. The Elk Grove, Calif., opened with a 5.10m jump and followed up with a 5.19m leap before recording her best jump of the day at 5.33m. Makenna McCloy and Murdock ran a tough 200m race with McCloy winning her heat with a time of 26.37 for fourth while Murdock finished in 27.06 for a second top-10 finish.
The track & field squad will get just short of two weeks rest before they head to sunny San Diego to square off against San Diego State in a dual meet. Meanwhile, the cross country crew will head back to Las Vegas for the Battle Born Collegiate Cross Country Challenge next Friday, Feb. 19, at Craig Ranch Regional Park to wrap up the shortened regular season.