Bulldogs continue record-setting season at Big East Championships

imageJOE HASENSTAB | Staff Reporter

The Butler track and field team competed in its first Big East Conference meet last weekend in New York City. The Bulldogs now look forward to the conference and national meets.

The men’s team came in sixth place, and the women’s finished seventh.

This does not fully represent the number of great performances that Butler had overall, freshman Colleen Weatherford said.

“There were a couple performances that really surprised our coaches, and we had a couple individuals that medaled several times,” Weatherford said.

Junior Nicole Hudec placed third in the long jump with a leap of 5.56 meters and third in the triple jump with a mark of 11.93 meters. Both of these jumps were new school records. Hudec was Butler’s top point scorer of the meet.

Junior Mara Olson had another good meet, in which she also got two medals.

“Mara, running against two of the best athletes in the nation, came third in the 3,000-meter run,” coach Matt Roe said, “and she anchored our distance medley relay that was third against two of the best teams in the country. We had a lot of really strong performances on the women’s side, but (Olson and Hudec) stood out.”

The women’s DMR that won a bronze medal consisted of Olson, Weatherford, senior Shelbi Burnett and junior Kelly Davidson.

Another school record set by the women’s team was in the 4×400 relay with Davidson, junior Amy Wright, junior Kiley Shelley and senior Maddy Cassidy.

On the men’s side, senior Nigel Spears came in third in the long jump with a jump of 6.88 meters.

Fellow senior Alex Berry set a school record in the 500-meter run with a time of 1:03.06 and joined Spears,  senior Matt Schumacker and senior Andrew Wallace in the 4×400 relay. Their relay team placed third at the meet.

All that remains of the indoor season is the national championships. After next weekend, all conference meets across the country will be completed. The top 16 athletes in each event will be designated for the nationals meet.

“We have, at this point, one athlete that we think stands a very strong chance,” Roe said. “The men’s distance medley relay is outstanding, one of the top in the country, but they’ll probably be on the outside looking in. Mara Olson has a shot in both the 5,000 and the 3,000—a very strong chance.”

Each individual is only allowed to compete in one event at the meet, even if they qualify for multiple events. If Olson does qualify for both, it will be up to her and Roe to decide which event to enter.

“That’s our ultimate goal is to have an athlete or more at the national championship,” the coach said. “Conference is important, but if we can advance someone to the national championships that’s even bigger.”