The men’s and women’s track and field teams finished as the conference runner-up over the weekend at the BIG EAST Championships in Ocean Point, New York, and now must reckon with falling short by extremely close margins.
“It was very close on both sides, and we knew it was going to be a battle all the way to the end,” head coach Bert Rogers said in a press release. “Unfortunately, we were just a little short on both sides, but we left everything out there.”
Ten different athletes were crowned as individual champions for Marquette, but Villanova edged the men’s and women’s team in the Championship’s final two events, the 4×400 relay and the high jump. The final tally had the Wildcats leading 152-148 on the women’s side and 181-173 on the men’s.
However, Marquette at least narrowed the deficit going into the final day of competition. Prior to Saturday’s events, Villanova’s men led by 23 and the women led by 15.
Sophomore Daniel Armstrong was a bright spot for Marquette, winning high jump for the second year in a row. Armstrong defended his title while setting a personal record of 2.20 meters, which may be enough to qualify him for the NCAA indoor nationals in March. It was enough to earn Most Outstanding Performer in field events.
Senior thrower Maya Marion added a championship to finish off a historic indoor career at Marquette. She won her second BIG EAST gold medal in the indoor shot put and her fifth career gold medal at the conference championships.
“My team was amazing,” Marion said. “The energy was really awesome, and it was a really good setting for me to push through today. I’m feeling elated.”
Terica Harris also shined over the weekend, earning gold in the long jump and triple jump, which made her the female athlete of the meet.
Two more athletes earned gold on the women’s side: Marin McClowry (high jump) and Julie Clayton (pole vault).
Marquette’s men’s team also brought home some gold medals. Joel Swanberg (pole vault), Joshua Word (60 meters), Terrance Howard (weight throw) and William Eggers (heptathlon) all placed first in their events. Eggers broke the Marquette school record with a heptathlon score of 5,234.
That wasn’t the only first on the men’s side; Word is the first Marquette athlete to ever win the 60-meter event at the BIG EAST Championships.
“It feels amazing,” Word said. “I had been breaking my own school record all season long. All that was left was to win gold.”
The double runner-up finish snaps a two-year streak of BIG EAST championships for the women and it extends the men to four consecutive seasons with a second-place finish.
Despite both teams coming up just short of a crown, Rogers said he is very proud of what his teams accomplished.
“I told both teams, ‘We left it on the track, on the runways and in the ring,'” Rogers said. “Tomorrow starts outdoor season, and we’re going to regroup. We’re a strong team on both sides and I don’t see any reason why we won’t be in it to win it again.”