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Look Out Below – Below 4:30, That Is


Lilly breaks big barrier in 1500; Stepper goes sub-12 in 100 at Ken Shannon Invite

SEATTLE – Kate Lilly doesn’t normally watch the clock.
This time, she did.
At the finish line, both the clock and the Seattle Pacific junior were fast enough.
Lilly finally broke through the 4½-minute barrier in the 1500 meters, stopping the watch in 4 minutes, 28.99 seconds on Saturday at the Ken Shannon Invitational track and field meet.

Article is Courtesy of Seattle Pacific Athletics. Thumbnail photo caption:
Andrew Towell
Kate Lilly had five times in the 4:30 range for the 1500 meters in the past year, and finally beat that on Saturday. Photo by Andrew Towell

In the past 12 months, Lilly has hit 4:30 and a fraction in five meets: 4:30.30 at the 2018 Bryan Clay Invitational, 4:30.29 at the 2018 Great Northwest Athletic Conference meet, 4:30.11 in the 2018 NCAA prelims, followed by a 4:30.49 in the finals, then 4:30.09 at this year’s Bryan Clay on April 19.
In Saturday’s regular-season finale, everything lined up mostly in her favor: decent weather (except for some mild headwinds going up the backstretch), some good competition on the oval with two University of Washington runners doing the work of leading the pack, and, perhaps most of all, the desire of finally putting a 4:20-something into her column.
“It was an opportunity to just get it done, and I was making sure I got it done,” Lilly said. “When the wind was picking up, I was a little worried, but we’re good. Everything’s fine.”
Katie Rainsberger and Anna Maxwell of the Huskies went to the front early and stayed there. Rainsberger came through in 4:20.82, and Maxwell was next in 4:24.80. Lilly was in fourth through the first 800 meters, with UW’s Shona McCulloch directly ahead of her. But approaching the 900 mark, Lilly surged past McCulloch.
At the bell with 400 to go, she was at 3:20, meaning she needed no more than a 70-second final lap to break the 4:30 barrier,
She essentially got it done in 69.
“I was kind of looking at the clock a little bit coming down the homestretch, and was like, ‘We’re going to do it, we’re going to do it,'” Lilly said. “I’m glad we could even skip the 4:29s.”
Lilly came into the day at No. 23 on the NCAA Division II national qualifying list. Saturday’s time puts her at No. 19, pending the outcome of other action – including some conference championship meets – taking place around the country this weekend.


For the past three weeks, sophomore Julia Stepper has been stuck in neutral. One of Seattle Pacific’s top sprinters, Stepper had been enjoying a fine, fast spring when she sustained a hamstring injury in the days following the Jay Hammer Meet at Saint Martin’s on April 13.
She skipped the mid-April trip to Southern California, then watched, but did not compete last week in Bellingham. Her practices were limited to nothing longer than 60 meters at full speed.
No such limits on Saturday. Stepper entered just one race, but made the most of it, clocking 11.96 seconds in the 100-meter dash.
That was a personal-best, breaking her old mark of 12.06 set last May 5 on the same UW oval.
“I’m so glad it finally happened – I’m beyond excited and thrilled,” Stepper said. “I didn’t really know what to expect today. I was honestly expecting a little seback like a 12.3 or 12.4. (Her season best had been 12.15 in San Diego on March 22.) I couldn’t even believe it was real when I saw the time.”
Stepper became the first Falcon this season to break 12 seconds in the 100, so that part obviously was satisfying. But just as satisfying was the fact that there were no lingering effects of the injury.
“It’s completely in the past,” she said. “I’ve been wearing a sleeve around my hammy, and that’s helping. I haven’t felt any pain recently. I’ve been doing a lot of treatment and staying up on it, so there’s no pain, thankfully.”

Falcons senior Geneva Lehnert hasn’t had the easiest of springs. She just wasn’t getting the high jump marks she wanted.
Something had to change – so she changed her approach. Instead of a customary 10-step run-up to the bar, Lehnert now takes just five steps.
The results have spoken for themselves: 5-4¼ last week at the Ralph Vernacchia Invite in Bellingham, then a season-high 5-5 on Saturday. Her two meets prior to that had been no-height and 4-11½.
“I think to be clearing bars on the first attempt at the beginning of competition puts me in a really good place mentally,” said Lehnert, who also had a very good look at 5-7. “It’s one jump and let’s get this and go on to the next one. I’ve felt really good going over the top of the bar in the last few meets and practices.”
Making that significant of a change at this late stage of her career wasn’t necessarily an easy call.
But then again …
“As far as me jumping better from the five-step, that was an easy decision,” Lehnert said. “But it’s a drastic decision. We’ve talked about it, and I’ve gone back and forth. I tried a seven-step and a six-step, and we’ve kind of shifted around to see what’s best. And it seems like I’m jumping best from a five.”

— Freshman Peace Igbonagwam won the long jump for the second meet in a row. This time, it was with a  leap of 18 feet, 5¾ inches. That was SPU’s first event victory at the Ken Shannon since 2016. Igbonagwam also won at the Ralph Vernacchia last Saturday with a mark of 18-1.
— Coming off a second-place finish in the GNAC women’s heptathlon this past Monday and Tuesday, junior Scout Cai turned her attention to the pole vault on Saturday, and posted a career-best height of 12 feet, 2 inches for fourth place. That is the second-best mark in the GNAC and puts her onto the NCAA provisional qualifying list.
— Speaking of career pole vault bests, freshman Sean Barbour made a big one. He went 14-1 3/4, his first-ever 14-footer. His previous best was 13-9 1/4 on April 5 at the WWU Team Invitational in Bellingham.
–Freshman Kaylee Mitchell posted the second NCAA provisional qualifying time of her career. Already on the list – and very likely in the meet – in the 3000-meter steeplechase, Mitchell bettered the standard in the 1500 on Saturday, finishing in 4:32.72. That was nearly three seconds better than her old PR of 4:35.49 from the Bryan Clay Invite on April 19.
— The 100-meter dash had the look of a GNAC finals preview. Conference leader Macie Allen of Concordia-Portland won in 11.84, followed by Stepper in second with her 11.96, and SPU sophomore Renick Meyer in third at 12.05.
— The 200 also was GNAC heavy. Allen was second in 24.43, Grace Bley fourth in 24.57, Igbonagwam  sixth in a PR 25.12, and Karlie Hurley of Concordia seventh in 25.25.
— Freshman Colby Otero won his heat of the 1500 in 4:00.80, giving him 10th place overall.
— Junior Christian Wong ran a career-best 11.55 in the men’s 100-meter dash.
With the regular season now complete, the Falcons will focus on next week’s GNAC Championships at Western Oregon’s McArthur Field in Monmouth. On Friday, field events begin at 2:30 p.m. and the first race on the track is at 3:00. Saturday’s schedule, unlike previous years, will be geared toward the evening, with field events starting at 2:30 and running events at 4:45. The last event is scheduled for 8:00 p.m.

Ken Shannon Invitational
Saturday, May 4, 2019
Husky Track / Seattle, Wash.
Team scores – Not kept.
100 – 1, Macie Allen (Concordia-Portland) 11.84. SPU – 2, Julia Stepper 11.96!; 3, Renick Meyer 12.05!; 6, Jenna Bouyer 12.39!; 11, Anna Farner 12.99.
200 – 1, Ida Eikeng (Unattached) 24.28. SPU – 4, Grace Bley 24.57!; 6, Peace Igbonagwam 25.12!; 11, Anna Farner 26.65.
400 – 1, Sarah Stavig (UW) 57.61. SPU – 3, Rebecca Troescher 59.77.
800 – 1, Kelly Makin (UW) 2:07.78. SPU – 3, Elizabeth Thompson 2:18.28; Krystal Kaufman DNF.
1500 – 1, Katie Rainsberger (UW) 4:20.82. SPU – 3, Kate Lilly 4:28.99#!; 5, Kaylee Mitchell 4:32.72#!; 6, Dania Holmberg 4:34.86.
100 hurdles – 1, Ida Eikeng (Unattached) 13.46. No SPU.
400 hurdles – 1, Karlee Stueckle (UW) 1:03.11. No SPU.
High jump – 1, Lauren Wilson (PLU) 5-7 / 1.70m. SPU – 2, Geneva Lehert 5-5 / 1.65m; T7, Madison Licari 4-7 / 1.40m.
Pole vault – 1, Chloe Cunliffe (Unattached) 13-9¾ / 4.21m. SPU – 4, Scout Cai 12-2 / 3.71m; 11, Madison Licari 11-1¾ / 3.40m; 13, Emma Lambert 11-1¾ / 3.40m (Licari gets higher position on fewer-misses tiebreaker).
Long jump – 1, Peace Igbonagwam (SPU) 18-5¾ / 5.63m. Other SPU – 4, Renick Meyer 17-3¼ / 5.26m.
Triple jump – No event.
Shot put – 1, Angel Nkwonta (UW) 51-10 / 15.80m. No SPU.
Discus – 1, Virginia Mehl (UW) 170-2 / 51.86m. No SPU.
Hammer – 1, Onvie Chibuogwu (UW) 188-10 / 57.56m. No SPU.
Javelin – 1, Bethany Drake (Oiselle) 158-0 / 48.15m. No SPU.
Ken Shannon Invitational
Saturday, May 4, 2019
Husky Track / Seattle, Wash.
Team scores – Not kept.
100 – 1, Khaili Winfrey (UW) 10.40. SPU – 10, Christian Wong 11.55.
200 – 1, Praise Ollatoke (Trinity Western) 21.20. SPU – 13, Christian Wong 23.85.
400 – 1, Ryan Witters (WWU) 51.20. No SPU.
800 – 1, Sam Prakel (Adidas) 1:50.11. SPU – 3, Jesse Phan 1:54.13.
1500 – 1, Isaac Green (UW) 3:48.19. SPU – 10, Colby Otero 4:00.80; 13, Elius Graff 4:03.86; 14, Shad Galloway 4:07.34; 15, Jared Putney 4:08.12p; 17, Brayden Schultz 4:10.51; 18, Ben Hansen 4:14.70.
110 hurdles – No race.
400 hurdles – 1, Cordell Cummings (WWU) 52.62. No SPU.
High jump – 1, Tim Duckworth (Unattached) 6-6 ¾ / 2.00m. No SPU.
Pole vault – 1, Joseph Weiler (UW) 16-1 ¼ / 4.91m. SPU – 3, Sean Barbour 14-1 ¾ / 4.31m; Davis Flintoff no height.
Long jump – 1, Samuel Richmond (UW) 23-1 ¾ / 7.05m. SPU – 6, Silas Newby 20-2 ¼ / 6.15m.
Triple jump – No event.
Shot put – 1, Josh Koch (Concordia-Portland) 55-1 / 16.79m. No SPU.
Discus – 1, Jose Padilla (UW) 173-1 / 52.75m. No SPU.
Hammer – 1, Connor Jost (UW) 194-3 / 59.21m. No SPU.
Javelin – 1, Easton Christensen (Concordia-Portland) 214-8 / 65.44m. No SPU.

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