PULLMAN, Wash. – Redshirt sophomore Kelsi Schaer moved into third place on Oregon State’s all-time list in the 800m, Kaitlyn Mason put herself among the 10 best in school history in the long jump and the Beavers had a number of solid performances on the first day of the Pac-12 Track and Field Championships in Pullman, Wash. on Saturday.
Schaer’s and Mason’s all-time efforts headlined the afternoon and evening for OSU, as the Beavers put forth a number of performances on the cusp of placing and scoring at the conference championships.
Schaer finished fourth in her heat and 12th overall in the 800m with a PR of 2:09.90. She shaved more than two seconds off her previous best of 2:11.91 and is now third all-time in school history, behind only Kathy Weston’s 2:03.67 in 1980 and Laura Carlyle’s 2:09.25 in 2011.
“Kelsi ran the best race of collegiate career,” Oregon State assistant coach Travis Floeck said. “She looked great and I am really proud of her. That sort of effort has been coming for a while.”
In the 1,500m, redshirt freshman Morgan Anderson ran 4:28.37 and finished just five hundredths of a second behind the 12th place and a spot in Sunday’s finals. In her first taste of Pac-12 Championships action, Anderson, who owns the third-best time in school history in the 1,500m, went out with the leaders and put forth a competitive effort in a stacked field.
“It was heartbreaking she was that close,” Floeck said. “But at the same time, she’s come such a long way. She is only a freshman and will have a lot of opportunities. Making the final at the Pac-12 meet is a difficult thing to do. She’ll have a couple of lessons she’s going to take with her the rest of her career. In the qualifying rounds you’re not racing bodies, you’re racing the clock, and Morgan learned that the hard way.”
Not only did Schaer and Anderson nearly miss out on Sunday’s final in both the 1,500m and 800m, but school-record holder in the steeplechase, Taylor Nowlin, also ran a courageous race late on Saturday. The senior overcame a troublesome injury not long ago and was in fifth or sixth the majority of the race. Nowlin was seven going into the last water jump with 150 to go and ended up getting passed by a few at the end. Her time of 10:54.07 was good for ninth and just behind the top eight scorers.
“Yes she was disappointed,” Floeck added. “Taylor wanted to score points and place, but less than a month ago she was hit by a car on her bike, suffered a concussion and missed two weeks of training. What she did today was incredible to watch. She went out and ran one of the gutsiest performances I’ve seen. At our home meet only two weeks ago she ran 11:15. Despite not being at the top of her game she went out and ran with a lot of heart. I had feared her season was over [after the accident].”
In the long jump, Michele Turney came in 14th with a leap of 18’ 1’ and will compete in her signature event, the triple jump, tomorrow morning at 11:30 a.m. Junior Kaitlyn Mason finished 16th after posting a distance of 17’ 11.50”, one which places her 10th on Oregon State’s all-time list.
Jessica Lautenbach cleared 5’ 3.25” in the high jump and came dangerously close to passing 5’ 5.25” on her first attempt, which would have scored and placed sixth.
In the javelin, freshman Christina MacDonald threw 139’ and was 11th out of 18 competitors. MacDonald, Mason, Anderson and Lautenbach, along with Holly Cavalluzzo (1,500m), Rachel Picknell (shot put), Melissa Ausman (shot put), Adrienne Demaree (10K) and Ryan Cope (men’s 400 hurdles) were all making their first appearances at the conference championships.
“As a program we feel like we are on the cusp,” Floeck said. “You can look at these results and think it’s a disappointment, but we had a really good day. Jessica [Lautenbach], for example, has the ability to come back and do more, and they all do. The most important thing for us this year is getting in there and competing hard. We are incredibly encouraged. This group this year has done an amazing job and really rose to challenge.
“Our expectations are not only for all ones here that are returning to continue what they’re doing now and become a year older, faster and stronger. But also we want to have another 15 extra bodies making this trip next year.”
On the men’s side, Ryan Cope ran 57.02 in the 400m hurdles. He had been unable to work out the past two weeks due to a foot injury and was in the mix going into the last 150 before hitting a hurdle.
Tomorrow’s action features Picknell in the hammer, Turney in the triple jump, Helen Ann Haun and Annie Sidor in the pole vault, Ausman, Picknell and Kayla Fleskes in the discus and Kinsey Gomez and Aly Nielson in the 5,000m.
“We’ll have the same goal tomorrow,” Floeck said. “We want them to stick their nose in it, feel like they belong and exceed expectations. For the ones we have left that’s what they’re going to do. The opening height in the pole vault is a PR for both Annie and Helen Ann so right off the bat they will be taking a shot at something they’ve never done before.”