Falcons Overcome Adversity To Earn Team Of The Week
Scout Cai took first place in the pentathlon in her first year competing in the event at the GNAC Indoor Track and Field Championships.
Scout Cai took first place in the pentathlon in her first year competing in the event at the GNAC Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Monday, February 20, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. – Seattle Pacific women’s track and field won the 2017 GNAC Indoor Track and Field Championships over the weekend in improbable fashion to earn this week’s Red Lion/GNAC Team of the Week recognition. The Falcons edged Simon Fraser by 3.5 points, scoring 124 points in the two-day meet.

“Every team talks about overcoming adversity, but that’s what our athletes really did this weekend,” assistant coach Chris Reed said after helping coach the team for the weekend in place of head coach Karl Lerum. “It was a very emotional weekend and we’ve had an interesting year. All season, these athletes have been asked to do a lot of extra stuff, so it was really special to get this win. We want to win every meet we compete in, but this one had extra significance and I’ll never forget being a part of this one.”

The Falcons got a perfect start to the 2017 edition of the conference championships with three underclassmen sweeping the podium in the pentathlon. Freshman Scout Cai took first place in the pentathlon with 3499 points and top-three finishes in the 60-meter hurdles, 800 meters and high jump. Fellow freshman Brooke Brenner grabbed second place with a score of 3461, and sophomore Geneva Lehnert completed the sweep in her first collegiate pentathlon after winning the high jump and the long jump, setting a meet record in the pentathlon high jump at 5 feet, 6.5 inches.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better start,” Reed said. “All three out-performed their seeding to finish in the top three. The timing was perfect, because they were finishing right as the rest of the team got to the track, so the first thing they saw was that success in the pentathlon. I think that inspired the rest of the team.”

The sweep accounted for 24 of the Falcons’ 124 points in the victory. They also received eight points from Kyra Brannon, who finished in sixth place in the 60-meter dash and fourth place in the 200-meter dash. Three Falcons also scored in the mile with Mary Charleson taking third, Kate Lilly in seventh and Sarah Macdonald in eighth for a total of another 10 points. Charleson scored a total of 11 points individually, taking fourth place in the 3,000 meters.

The Falcons also posted strong results in the jumps. Lehnert took first place in the high jump, Benner grabbed fourth and Cai finished in a tie for seventh for a total of 16.5 points. Then in the long jump, Brannan and Lehnert finished first and second, respectively, for another 18 points. Benner also competed in the triple jump for the first time in her collegiate career without any training in the event this season, but still claimed second place with a distance of 38 feet, 4.75 inches.

The Falcons got a late boost in points in the pole vault with three top-five finishes for a total of 14.5 points. Michaella Kahns and Cai both cleared 12 feet for the first time in their careers and Emma Lambert cleared 10 feet, 10.75 inches on the first try to finish in a tie for fifth place.

“We knew the team score was close going into the pole vault,” Reed said. “It’s a tricky event where if you’re not having a good day, you might no height, but all three girls performed well when we needed it.”

The team title came down to the final race of the meet, which was the 4x400. The Falcons had to finish inside the top three in the event to secure the team title and they did just that. The foursome of Brannan, Lani Taylor, Cheryl Hong and Becca Houk finished the race in a time of 3:48.80 to take third place and secure the team’s 11th GNAC Indoor Track and Field Championships title.