MU runners advance to Big East conference meet

Winning performances from senior distance runner Nick Szczech and sophomore sprinter Kyle Winter highlighted the Marquette track and field teams’ performances at the Meyo Invitational last Friday and Saturday.

“I would say as a group we did some good things, but there was definitely room for improvement,” Szczech said. “We had a few guys run the DMR (distance medley relay) well on Friday who didn’t do as well on Saturday, so coach had to get us back in line.”

Friday featured Szczech setting a personal best time of 14 minutes, 17.52 seconds in the 5,000-meter run, which was good enough for third all-time in Marquette history. The race, which Szczech called his “best race ever at Marquette,” was also the best time in the Big East and 10th in the country this year.

“Nick executed an excellent race plan on Friday,” said coach Bert Rogers. “His training has been going very well lately. For him, the key is just staying healthy. If he can do that then he generally is going to have a good race.”

Winter also ran a Big East qualifying time of 1:51.67 in the 800-meter run, which was a personal record and good enough for fifth all-time in Marquette indoor history.

“Kyle ran a very good tactical race,” Rogers said. “He had been training well this past week and we developed a very good race plan for him and he stuck to it very well. He was close to the NCAA automatic qualifier of 1:48. I think if he can get to 1:49, he might be able to get in.”

The women’s side also featured many strong performances. Freshman Sarah Ball set a freshman record in the 1,000-meter run with a Big East qualifying mark of 2:55.80, and junior Kate Horan set an indoor best in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 17:48.01.

“I was happy with how I did,” Horan said. “I set a personal record in the 5K, so I was really happy with that.”

Freshman Caitlin Hein in the 500-meter dash and junior Stephanie Grant in the 400-meter dash were also impressive. Hein set a personal record in her race while qualifying for the Big East meet with a time of 1:16.44.

“For Caitlin, as a freshman, and it being only her second time running the 500, qualifying for Big East is great,” Rogers said.

Grant’s performance in the 400, a time of 57.80, was also good enough to qualify her for the Big East meet.

“Stephanie put out a really gutsy performance this weekend,” Rogers said. “She has been battling a hamstring injury all year and seeing her qualify for Big East was a little surprising.”

Marquette returns to action this Friday at the Hoosier Hills Invitational in Bloomington, Ind. Rogers said the team will use the meet as a tune up for Big East Championships on Saturday, Feb. 19, though he doesn’t expect many more people to qualify for that meet.