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Blundell, Dennig Lead Track Team To Victory At USF

The UT track team ended its spring break by running against USF for their second meet of the season. “We had a good meet, just tough at the end of spring break as the kids are away and the training on their own is not the same as being here and training as a team,” said Assistant Coach Dror Vaknin.

“Despite the hot and windy day, the team as a whole each had great individual races and performed to their utmost potential,” said freshman Jake Poore. Poore ran a personal record and placed second overall in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Through the injuries, wind, and heat the Spartans walked away with multiple personal records (PR’s) and a school record. Freshman Kayla Sullivan, who is recovering from a bruised tailbone, ran a personal record and placed 10 overall in the 1,500 meter run. 

“I was fairly happy with my performance. I was bouncing back from a minor injury so I don’t think I was 100 percent, but ran my best despite that,” Sullivan said.

For the men’s team, “Noteable efforts were Brendan McGonagle with another big personal best of 8:58 for the 3000m. Steven Dennig was second  in the 800 in 1:56.4,” Vaknin said.

Dennig, on top of his personal record and second place in the 800 meter, was also part of the men’s relay that placed 1 overall. “I think I performed pretty well this past race. I know I had more in me so that’s something to look forward to in future races,” Dennig said.

The women’s team also excelled despite the weather challenges. “Overall, everyone raced well and the meet shows that our team has a lot of potential,” said junior Chantalle Bundell.

“At USF, Chantalle Blundell placed third in the 3000 meter race in an excellent time of 10:19.  The 4X400 meter team consisting of Sara Balser, Stephanie Silver, Madison Cox and Rachel Higgins set a school record. In the 200 meter race, Madison Cox had an excellent performance in 25.35,” said head coach Jarrett Slaven.

“I was pleased with my 200 race as I broke my school record again, but I still have lots of work to do since it’s only the beginning of the season,” Cox said.

The Spartans have a busy schedule ahead of them, including another USF meet and the UT invite before heading off to the NCAA Championships in the end of May. The UT Invite is a landmark for the Spartans’ season. “We are looking forward to our home meet on April 11 and hope to compete for first place,” Slaven said.

The team’s excitement for the upcoming home meet is widespread. “Everyone’s really starting to get into their best shape and our home meet in April should prove to be a good one,” Sullivan said.

With almost an entire season to look forward to, the UT Track team has many goals. “The biggest goal for the season is to get PR’s for everyone on the team, but more importantly have the top seven from cross country come around and set the tone for the upcoming cross country season. But we want to first have all our athletes healthy and competing on a higher level,” Vaknin said.

“I really want them to set high expectations for themselves because they are capable of a lot. We have such a young team so it is very exciting seeing all the talent and potential everyone has this year and in the future,” Blundell said.

The Spartans are collectively setting these high expectations, not only for themselves, but for the team as a whole too. “We should run a PR (personal record) each race now, our training is going great and we’re getting faster and faster each week,” Poore said.

The track team ultimately has their eyes set on the end goal of nationals. “All of us including myself want to to qualify for the national finals in May,” Poore said.

The Spartans, with Sullivan and Vaknin, seem confident about excelling this season and having a good turnout at nationals. “With Coach Slaven guiding me I feel confident that I can achieve those goals,” Sullivan said.

Erin Townsend can be reached at 

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