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WOU Women Break Drought, Win Team Of The Week
Western Oregon's Jenelle Hurley provided a points haul with four top-five event finishes, including a win in the long jump, plus a second-place heptathlon finish. Photo by Jacob Thompson.
Western Oregon's Jenelle Hurley provided a points haul with four top-five event finishes, including a win in the long jump, plus a second-place heptathlon finish. Photo by Jacob Thompson.

Monday, May 16, 2022

PORTLAND, Ore. – The chase pack became the champions at the GNAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships as the Western Oregon Wolves utilized a diverse array of performances to capture the team trophy last Friday and Saturday.

Western Oregon scored 155 points, 25 ahead of second-place Western Washington. The Wolves reached the top of the conference after finishing fifth last season and seventh the season before that. They had not won an outdoor women’s championship since 2008 and had not been in the top three since 2010. For the decade-defining victory, the Wolves women have been named the GNAC Team of the Week.

"The women absolutely showed up and competed at the indoor championships, and we knew this group was going to come out and do it again,” head coach Octavious Gillespie-Bennett said. “I’m really proud of their performances."

Western Oregon received a boost with three field-event champions on the opening day of the meet. Moana Gianotti successfully defended her title in the shot put with a heave of 45 feet, 3 inches. Kaylee Wright won the javelin after throwing 149 feet, 6 inches, and Jenelle Hurley leaped 19 feet, 5.5 inches to win the long jump and crack the GNAC’s all-time Top 10 list at No. 7.

As it turned out, Hurley was just getting started. The freshman had a total of four top-five finishes, coming in fifth in the triple jump, 100-meter hurdles and 400-meter hurdles. That stat line doesn’t even include her second-place finish in the heptathlon, where Hurley scored 4,821 at the combined events portion of the GNAC Outdoor Championships.

Hurley never finished lower than fourth in any of the seven heptathlon events, winning the long jump and placing second in the javelin during the combined competition. Hurley was named the GNAC Women’s Field Athlete of the Meet.

Ana Popchock gave WOU a fourth field champion on Saturday thanks to a 38 feet, 11.75 triple jump leap. Popchock also finished sixth in the heptathlon.

Every point is crucial in the team competition and WOU accumulated points up and down the board, especially in the field events. Liliana Lyness placed fourth in the hammer throw and fifth in the shot put while Lyndee McLauchlin finished fourth in the javelin. Amity Deters placed third in the high jump and fourth in the heptathlon.

On the track, Madeline Lambing placed third in the 400-meter hurdles while Caitlin Heldt grabbed huge points with a third-place double in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters. Luz Garcia finished behind Heldt in fourth in the 10,000. Maya Hopwood placed fifth in the 100-meter dash and the 4x100 relay of Hopwood, Popchock, Taryn Wilson and Maliyah Thompson finished fourth.

“It was an incredible experience to be a part of what these ladies did,” assistant coach Zach Holloway said. “It felt like every event these women were stepping up and exceeding expectations and just plain competing.”

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