PALO ALTO, Calif. – Of the six Lumberjacks to race in the women's 1500-meter event tonight on Cobb Track, three of them notched personal-best times as Northern Arizona University wrapped up its weekend festivities from the Cardinal Classic on the campus of Stanford University Saturday.
Leading off with Mikayla Malaspina, the NAU sophomore turned in the best time of any Lumberjack tonight in the 1500m event with a 4:29.86 mark. Running in the third of five sections, Malaspina logged a sixth-place finish en route to posting a career best by over 13 seconds.
Malaspina has now made it back-to-back weeks in which she has set new personal bests for herself, as she also crushed her old PR in the 5000m event at Bryan Clay last weekend. As far as her 1500m performance tonight goes, it appears Malaspina would rank No. 5 in the Big Sky this season with that time.
Her teammate Miranda Myers also PR'ed tonight in the same section, running in for eighth place with a 4:33.77 time—a five second improvement compared to her old career best. For Myers, it looks as though she could slide up as high as No. 11 on the conference's performance rankings when they become solidified tomorrow.
"We did a really good job of competing tonight," said Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Mike Smith. "I look at athletes like [Malaspina] and [Myers], who especially did a great job of hanging in their race when it got challenging."
"You have to realize, these are two athletes that primarily run longer distances. To have their race open up at 68 seconds for the first 400m when they usually train in the mid to high 70's is tough. Their progression from indoors to outdoors has been night and day, and I'm very proud of them. They met the difficulties they faced tonight with courage and fight, and that's only going to help them and our team in the future."
Melanie Zibrat, who competed last night as well, was back at it tonight in the 1500m event, checking in at 4:42.79 in the fifth section. A personal-best for her as well, Zibrat shaved three seconds off her previous best time in this event.
For the three other Lumberjack women that competed Saturday in the 1500m—Maggie Carruth (4:30), Emily Roughan (4:41.07) and Karina Ernst (4:33.71)—they nearly PR'ed as well, with Ernst just missing a new career-best by 0.65 of a second.
A bevy of NAU men competed in the same event, the 1500m run, which was broken up into four different sections. While there certainly were some very good performances, the only Lumberjack to PR was Harvey Nelson with a 4:03.44 time in the fourth section.
Do not be fooled, though, as some other Lumberjacks still posted respectable times at Stanford Saturday. Nathan Weitz, for example, ran in the second section and finished with a 3:47.57 time—just two seconds off his season best and three off his career best. Weitz, the redshirt-senior, currently ranks No. 5 on the Big Sky performance list with a 3:45.66 time set at Bryan Clay.
The conference's No. 2 ranked athlete in the 1500m, Geordie Beamish, was the only NAU athlete to run in the first and final section of the night, checking in with a time of 3:44.84. As mentioned, Beamish's 3:41.87 PR is second-best in the conference this season and off of first place by 0.11 of a second.
Another notable performance tonight came from sophomore Peter Lomong, posting a 3:53.05 time for 11th-place in the second section. Lomong ranks No. 11 in the Big Sky in 2017 with his 3:51.53 logged at Bryan Clay.
"On the men's side, there wasn't anything lights out—no performances that would blow anyone away—but that's also a big part of what we do," said Smith. "A sign of a good program is the level of consistency its athletes bring to each race. That's what we were able to do tonight, compete at a high level, and it just shows how dedicated we are to the process."
As of right now, the Lumberjacks are scheduled to travel to the Steve Scott Invitational in Irvine, Calif., next weekend.