Track 2014 Season Preview
Feb. 20, 2014
MALIBU, Calif. - The 2014 season begins for Pepperdine's men's and women's track teams on Saturday (Feb 22) as the Waves will travel up north to Westmont and compete in their first meet against the host Warriors and UC Santa Barbara.
The first event for the Waves is the women's 4x100 relay at 12 p.m.
"Our pre-competition training has been absolutely excellent," Pepperdine Coach Robert Radnoti said. "We are very excited for the spring and the incredible weather and great team have allowed us to have a nearly perfect start. Distance runners have been focusing on hill and strength development, while sprinters have been working with our new assistant coach Venus Jewett, who has done a wonderful job working with everyone and preparing them for our future competitions."
After the departure of a strong group of seniors from last season, including Juliet Casillas, Summer Enalen, Hayley Lytle and Kasey Ullery, the 2014 women's squad is looking to start the season off strong and set new Pepperdine records.
This year's group of seniors are former Olympian Sarah Attar (Escondido, Calif./Escondido HS), Tamyshia Curry (Fairview, Texas/Lovejoy HS), Patricia Donnelly (Drexel Hill, Pa./Academy of Notre Dame de Namur), Natasha Hamlin (Arcadia, Calif./Mayfield Senior School), Chloe Levray (Burbank, Calif./Lycee International de Los Angeles) and Channing Williamson (Kennesaw, Ga./North Cobb HS).
Three members of last season's record-breaking 4x400-meter relay return, including Williamson and sophomores Stasia Demick (Seattle, Wash./Holy Names Academy) and Syrii Daniel (Yucaipa, Calif./Yucaipa HS).
Junior sprinter Triston Brown (Colorado Springs, Colo./Briarcrest Christian HS), has recovered from an injury last season and is looking to be one of the squad's strongest runners in the 400-meter event.
Brown (400 meters) and Daniel (100 and 200 meters) have put their names on Pepperdine list of all-time top-five runners in their respective events, as has sophomore Katie Engel (Honeoye Falls, N.Y./Honeoye Falls-Lima HS) in the mile and two-mile. Each of them is looking to make a large impact on the track this season.
One first-year runner expected to fare well is junior Lisa Santroch (Shoreline, Wash./Shorewood HS), who played soccer for two seasons before joining the cross country team in the fall.
Pepperdine's roster of 28 women includes 14 freshmen who are projected to contribute greatly to the team's success this season.
"On the sprint side, Izzy Connell qualified for the California state championship. She is very strong, and has been running very well in workouts," Radnoti said. "Tori Occhipinti is a hurdler and has also been running very strong. She too will bring a lot to the team this season. Lindsay Sheaffer will be one of our strongest athletes in the 800-meter and 1,500-meter races.
"It will also be exciting to see Elle Lemco in the distance races, Jordan Spencer in the 800 meters and Gabrielle Ellis in the 100 and 200 meters. We are looking forward to the great group of freshmen coming in and helping our team this season and we look forward to watching them mature and grow in the years to come."
The men's team keeps a small roster of just five, all of whom are freshmen: Nick Blanchard (Portland, Conn./Portland HS), Aric Crowell (Claremont, Calif./Claremont HS), Ben Fox (Colorado Springs, Colo./Cheyenne Mountain HS), Gordie Thomas (Fallbrook, Calif./Great Oak HS) and Torin Wile (Beverly Hills, Mich./Brother Rice HS).
"Our men are very competitive in regards to securing a coveted spot on the team," Radnoti said. "Nick Blanchard is probably going to be our 5,000 meter specialist. He has been exceptionally strong and could very well go after the 5K school record in his freshman year, and will definitely have a few more school records later in his career here at Pepperdine.
"Torin Wile has shown great promise in achieving a new school record in the 800 meters as a freshman. Gordie Thomas, Ben Fox, and Aric Crowell will likely be our 1,500-meter runners and the three of them are pushing each other really hard."
Pepperdine, which competes independently, will go to at least eight more meets until early May and the end of the school year, including the Savannah State Relays (March 1), a four-team competition at Riverside Community College that includes Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State (March 8), Ben Brown Invitational (March 15), UC Irvine Invitational (March 21-22), Cal Poly Invitational (March 29), Cal/Nevada Collegiate Championships (April 4-5), Pomona-Pitzer Invitational (April 12) and Beach Invitational (April 18-19). Runners who can achieve NCAA qualifying times may continue to compete after that.
-- Written by Rumer Cantrell, Athletic Communications Student Assistant