LONG BEACH, Calif. - The Loyola University Chicago track & field team wrapped up a successful weekend slate today with multiple personal and season-best showings at both the Beach Invitational in Long Beach, Calif. and the Benedictine Eagle Relays in suburban Lisle, Ill.
"We got a lot done at the Beach Invitational today," Loyola head track & field coach Bob Thurnhoffer said. "The highlight was Kiera (Washpun) and her NCAA Regional qualifying mark of 19-10.75 (6.06m). She's made her first regional meet and mixed it up with some of the best jumpers in the country. She has absolutely ascended this year and I can't wait to see what the rest of the season holds for her. Jaz (Hayes) had an awesome day as well. He had a massive personal best of 10.58 in the 100m dash and was the top collegiate finisher in the 200m dash that was unfortunately run into a big headwind. He's shown that he's ready to hit and regional mark at any time and compete for a spot in Eugene."
Leading the way for the Maroon & Gold out on the West Coast today was junior Kiera Washpun. The Iowa City, Iowa native all but booked her spot in next month's NCAA West Regional as she recorded a top-leap of 19-10.75 (6.06m) en route to finishing fifth overall in the long jump. That mark also solidifies Washpun's number two spot on both the Missouri Valley Conference leaderboard and Loyola's all-time outdoor record board.
On the track, senior Jaz Hayes turned in a personal-best effort of 10.58 in the men's 100m dash to move up to third on the program's all-time chart. The Louisville, Ky. product went on to add an impressive time of 21.32 in the 200m dash, where he was the top collegiate finisher. In the 400m dash, junior Samuel Urben came away with a victory in his heat of the event, finishing in 48.69. On the women's side, senior Audrey Michaelson turned in her second 1,500m run season-best performance in as many days as she crossed in 4:35.86. That time unofficially moves her into the top 10 on the Valley leaderboard.
At Benedictine, senior Andrew Berman ascended the Loyola record boards with a pair of standout performances. Berman, out of Gurnee, Ill., opened his day with a personal-best in the 100m dash of 10.82 that moves him up to seventh all-time at Loyola. Shortly after, the senior moved up into the number seven spot on the program's 200m dash record board, checking in with a personal-best time of 21.64.
In the women's sprints, the duo of sophomore Natajah Simmons and freshman Denee' Lawrence shined. Lawrence began her afternoon by earning fifth place in the 100m dash with a time of 12.14 as she barely fell short of her personal best. Lawrence ran alongside Simmons in the 200m dash, where both climbed the Loyola record board in the event. Simmons came in at 24.44, the third fastest time in school history, while Lawrence was close behind at 24.59 to move into the sixth spot. The quartet of juniors Paulina Gal and Brady Rodney and freshmen Kyndall Wallace and Lindsay Walters closed out the afternoon in style for the Maroon & Gold as they cruised to a victory in the 4x400m relay with a season-best time of 3:50.21.
"The women's sprints squad really came ready to get after it today," Loyola assistant track & field coach Jon DeGrave commented. "Kyndall and Brady kicked it off with big season-best times in the 400m dash in very windy conditions and really set the tone. Natajah and Denee' followed that with two big personal bests in the 200m dash that moved them way up the conference and Loyola lists. Finally, the women's 4x400m relay closed it out with a convincing victory. I know this group is really headed in the right direction and I see big things ahead."
Loyola is back in action next Saturday, April 22, when it heads to Iowa City, Iowa for the Musco Twilight.