Marquette Track and Field: Cue Etta James, Winter gets 600-meter record at last

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Marquette braved the elements Thursday on the bus ride to Allendale, Mich., for Grand Valley State’s Big Meet and arrived ready for a weekend of competition.

Coach Bert Rogers said the team was fortunate to get a good bus drive on the way there considering the conditions.

“It was slow going through Chicago,” Rogers said. “Once we got in that last stretch from Michigan City to Grand Rapids, it was snowing pretty good. We just took our time – fortunately, no incidents.”

In his final attempt at the school record for the men’s indoor 600-meter run, senior Kyle Winter entered just .01 seconds away from Jon Shaffer’s record set in 2005. He ran the 600-meter race at Wisconsin’s Badger Classic and the Illini Classic but fell short both times.

At Grand Valley, he crossed the finish line behind Ashland’s Drew Windle with a time of 1:19.07, good enough for a new school record. Entering the season, Winter admitted that getting the school record was one of his goals, but his main goal is to defend the Big East crown in the men’s 800-meter run.

“There was a mix of excitement and on both our parts, thinking ‘It’s about time,’ because he’s been right there for several races,” Rogers said. “To get it was very exciting, and I’m very happy and proud of him.”

More rewriting of the school record books took place on the women’s side, as junior Abigail Croft broke the 12-foot mark in the pole vault for the first time in the indoor season. On her final attempt, she cleared the 12-foot, 1/2 inch mark.

With a previous best of 11-feet and 9.75 inches, she moved from fourth to third on the school’s all-time list. She currently sits just one inch behind Carrie Schmid’s second place in 2008.

“For the early part of the year she was battling injury, so it’s really exciting to see her coming back into form,” Rogers said. “That’s excellent that we’re hitting our stride right before the Big East.”

Freshman Molly Hanson got her first try at the indoor mile last weekend and posted the third-best time of the day with a 4:52.12 run. It is the fastest women’s mile for Marquette since Olivia Johnson ran 4:53.71 at the 2010 Big East Indoor Championship. Hanson also surpassed Johnson on the all-time list for fifth-fastest in school history.

“It was nice to see (Molly) put together a good race,” Rogers said. “Honestly, it wasn’t the most evenly split race. I think in her second-to-last lap she was a little bit slower. If she can even that out, I think she can drop a few more seconds.”

Also getting fifth-best ever at Marquette was senior Katie Kemmerer in the 400-meter dash with a new personal best of 57:83. This was her third 400-meter run of the year. She has managed to set personal bests in the 60-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter distances this year.

After a disappointing run at Notre Dame in the men’s 5,000-meter run, redshirt junior Spencer Agnew rebounded with a Big East qualifier in the men’s mile. His time of 4:13.31 was right behind senior Patrick Maag’s 4:13.40.

Maag and Agnew are among the many Marquette conference championship qualifiers who have proved themselves over the last 11 weeks on the road to Geneva.

SIDEBAR: Quick Notes on Marquette Track Alums:

– Tommy Schmitz made his return to the track after ten months with the men’s 3,000-meter run at the University of Washington’s Husky Classic. He finished with a time of 8:01, which qualified him for the 2013 US Indoor National Championship. He would also run the men’s mile in 4:03.83 for an eight-second victory over Harris Emmons of Washington.

– Nick Szczech has registered for the 2013 Lakefront Marathon on Oct. 6.

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