Wright State women’s track coach Rick Williamson could hardly believe his stopwatch at the Horizon League championships last weekend. Qualifying for the finals in most events required considerably faster times than previous seasons.
“The conference was much, much better,” he said. “Just quality and depth wise, it was a much stronger field this year.”
The fierce competition, though, didn’t keep several runners from shining. Victoria Angelopoulos, Brooklyn Mikesell and Hailey Brumfield all had individual firsts to help the Raiders to a fourth-place showing in Rochester, Mich.
Wright State also finished fourth in the outdoor meet last season, but this one felt like more of an accomplishment — especially since 87 of the team’s 89 points were tallied by athletes who return next season.
“It was a great cap to the season,” Williamson said.
Angelopoulos, a sophomore from Centerville , won the 800-meter run in 2:12.03, improving one spot from last season.
Mikesell, a junior from Miamisburg, claimed the 400-meter hurdles in 1:01.92 after finishing third in 2017. She also was fourth in the 100 hurdles.
Brumfield, the Raiders’ top cross-country runner, was first in the 3000 steeplechase in 10:57.39. The sophomore from Tipp City also chipped in by finishing second in the 10,000 in 36:05.15.
Angelopoulus and Brumfield are both just 5 feet 1. And while most coaches may look for long, lean runners, Williamson’s long-held belief is that champions come in all sizes.
“There’s advantages to being tall and disadvantages to being tall,” he said. “You look at the mechanics and physics and energy expenditures, and (shorter athletes) just have less energy to take each step, where a long person has to expend more energy. But they’re covering less ground, so it works out both ways.
“Hailey was by far the shortest steeplechaser, and Victoria is also really short. But they really hit the weights, and they’re two strong individuals.”
Aurora Turner, a sophomore from Beavercreek, was second to Brumfield in the 3000 steeplechase, while Molly Kearns, a freshman from Russia, was fourth.
Maria Heckman, a sophomore from Minster, just missed her second-straight pole-vault title. She cleared 3.67 meters but lost to Oakland’s Dana Tessmer in a jump-off.
“She’s had some back injuries and hadn’t pole-vaulted in two weeks,” Williamson said. “I think without the back injury, she would have won. It just shows what kind of competitor she is.”
The Raiders are a well-rounded bunch. Williamson, who is in his second year as head coach after five as an assistant, said the team GPA is more than 3.6.
They also have plenty of grit since they’re competing against better-funded teams. They have to practice at Fairborn High School and have no indoor track on campus.
“That just shows you the type of kid we’re working with,” he said. “Even when we can’t give them everything they need, they don’t really complain about it.
“We have to practice outside in a lot in the crappy weather, especially this spring, and they’re just a great group of kids. We go on trips, and they’re fun to be with. It’s been a real joy.”
The Raiders reached the semifinals of the league tourney, splitting four games, to finish 21-32 under first-year coach Laura Matthews. Senior pitcher Ashley Sharp made the all-tourney team.
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