2011 Track Season Begins With Westmont Quadrangular
Feb. 18, 2011
MALIBU, Calif. - The Pepperdine men's and women's track and field teams begin their fourth season together under the leadership of head coach Robert Radnoti at the Westmont Quadrangular Saturday, Feb. 19 on the campus of Westmont College in Montecito. The Waves are looking to improve upon a 2010 season that saw five school records broken by four student-athletes.
Leading the way for the Waves will be junior distance runner Lauren Lodge (Hopkinton, Mass./Hopkinton HS), who looks to become the first-ever female Pepperdine student-athlete to qualify for the NCAA championships in the steeplechase. Lodge is currently focusing on the 1500m and 5000m events as she prepares to take aim at the steeplechase title at the NCAA West Regionals in late May.
Radnoti has high expectations for Lodge.
"Her practices have been great," Radnoti said. "She is a tremendous athlete and she is on her way to achieving that goal."
Lodge finished fifth at the West Coast Conference Cross Country Championships in the fall to earn All-WCC honors. To help Lodge in her quest to reach the NCAA regionals, Radnoti hired former USC Track and Field All-American Julia Budniak as an assistant coach to mentor Lodge. Budniak was the former national 3000m steeplechase champion in 2002 for the Polish National Team.
"We are really excited about Julia joining our staff," Radnoti stated. "She will be a tremendous asset in the growth of Lo Lo (Lauren Lodge) as a steeplechase runner. We want to make Pepperdine the choice for future steeplechase athletes."
Lodge is expected to make her first appearance in the steeplechase this season at the UC Irvine Invitational on March 19.
Joining Lodge as a mainstay for the Waves in distance will be senior Chelsea Wishard (Lawai, Hawai'i/Kauai HS). She lowered the standards in the 1500m and 3000m runs last season. Wishard broke the school's record in the 3K with a time of 10:04.01 at the Cal State Northridge Invitational, and two weeks later clocked a personal best 4:39.35 in the 1500m at UCLA's Cal-Nevada Championships.
Wishard, who placed second at the WCC Cross Country Championships, enters her final year as a Wave also holding the varsity record in the 800m (2:19.70). She will be competing primarily this spring in the 5000m and 10000m.
Lodge and Wishard spearhead a Waves squad that features 34 women competing, the largest group ever assembled at Pepperdine.
"We are really proud of that," Radnoti said. "We will continue to build upon the foundation set by these fine ladies."
Included in this stellar group of women are four seniors and nine freshmen who make-up the core of the sprint and hurdler group. The Waves will be led in these events by a trio of seniors in Amanda Ajdari (Valencia, Calif./Hart HS), Brittany Clark (Laguna Beach, Calif./Laguna Beach HS) and Bridgette Walker (Oak Harbor, Wash./Oak Harbor HS). They will be looking to break the school records in the 100m, 200m, 400m sprints and hurdles.
The bulk of the cross country team will compete in the distance and mid-distance competitions for Pepperdine. The 800m will feature juniors Aneasha Lawrence (Simi Valley, Calif./Village Christian) and Hannah DeWalt (Gig Harbor, Wash./Gig Harbor HS) while the 1500 meters will be highlighted by junior Emily Branch (Advance, N.C./Forsyth Country Day School) and freshman Adrianna Davies (Coronado, Calif./Coronado HS).
Senior Aneka Myles (Victorville, Calif./Silverado HS) will be the lone thrower for the women as she competes in the shot put and discus. She is currently the record-holder for Pepperdine in each event. Myles threw a shot put toss of 35-9 at last year's Northridge Invitational. Myles' discus record of 111-1 was posted at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational in 2009.
Radnoti is very grateful for the senior class who will be the centerpiece and backbone to the Waves success this spring.
"They have had outstanding careers for us," Radnoti said fondly. "They hold all of our records for us but more importantly they have served as great mentors and leaders for our new crop of freshmen coming up. They have made Pepperdine proud."
On the men's side, Radnoti is looking for great things from a group of four athletes that will be the heart and soul for the Waves.
Senior Seth Allison (Canyon, Texas/Canyon HS), juniors Jordan Wozniak (Irvine, Calif./Woodbridge HS) and Derek Pesta (Gilroy, Calif./Gilroy HS) and freshman Russell Mott (Golden, Colo./Colorado Academy) will be striving towards excellence in the 1500m as each one will attempt to break four minutes and possibly the school-record of 3:59.28 set by Chris Ogle in 2008. It is a goal that Radnoti would love for them to achieve.
"It is exciting to see their training each day," Radnoti said. "They are doing a great job and each of them will have the opportunity to reach that goal."
Recently, 47 recruits visited the beautiful Malibu campus. Radnoti is excited about the future of Pepperdine track and field.
"We are really proud of our scholar-athletes," he said. "They represent the Pepperdine community well. We have outstanding people in our program and we want to continue to attract those types of people to this fine university."
The Waves' competition at the Westmont Quadrangular includes Claremont Mudd Scripps and UC Santa Barbara in addition to the host school. The first scheduled event (men's hammer) will take place at 10 a.m. and results are expected to be posted online in the early evening.
Early next month Pepperdine travels to Jacksonville, Fla. to compete in the North Florida Invitational on March 4. In addition to the meet, 28 members of the program will partake in Project Serve at the Hope Children's Home in Tampa from February 27 through March 6.
This will be the fourth year that the Waves have incorporated community service into their track schedule.
"It's very special," Radnoti said. "The kids there look forward to us coming back each year. It's a real neat activity that we take pride in."
The Waves will compete in a host of various meets ranging from as close as the Northridge Invitational on March 12 to the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut from April 14-16.