Sophomore standout Sarah Feeny wrote her name in the Utah record books yet again on Saturday at the Washington Invitational, running the mile in 4:38.57, the second-fastest time in Ute track and field history.
“I surprised myself,” Feeny said. “I didn’t know that I was capable of that this early in the season, so it’s a nice surprise.”
Feeny also helped the Utes to a third-place finish in the distance medley, as she joined redshirt sophomore Hannah McInturff, sophomore Sadie Wassum and freshman Caitlin Faust. The foursome ran the 4,000 meters in 11:37.99.
In the 800-meter race, redshirt senior Ali Eisenbeiss led Utah, crossing the finish line in seventh place with a time of 2:08.46. Allison Aafedt finished in 21st place, running the 800 meters in 2:14.86. Caitlin Faust rounded out the Utes, finishing in 41st place with a time of 2:19.18.
“It was certainly an outstanding day here in Seattle,” said Utah head coach Kyle Kepler. “For most of the kids, it was their opening meet of the year, and I am really pleased with the effort of everybody.”
For the first time in her career, McInturff participated in the 3,000-meter run, joining seniors Nikki Rietz, Kate Stringfellow, Jocelyn Todd, junior Becky Sarmiento and sophomore Shaylen Crook. McInturff placed 23rd in her debut, with a time of 9:41.09.
Rietz, Stringfellow and Sarmiento all finished within seconds of each other, finishing 32nd, 33rd and 34th with times of 9:52.71, 9:53.48 and 9:59.41, respectively. The finish set a personal best for Sarmiento, who beat her previous top time of 10:17.88 by nearly 19 seconds.
Todd and Shaleyn finished in 39rd and 40th place with times of 10:05.24 and 10:07.77, respectively.
In the last event of the meet, the 4×400-meter relay, Utah turned in another impressive performance, finishing in eighth place. Eisenbeiss, Aafedt, Wassum and Faust combined to run the relay in 3:55.69.
The Ute runners are still transitioning from spectacular cross country season, where they competed in the NCAA championships as a team for the first time in school history, finishing 26th. Some athletes will now have to adjust from running five-kilometer and six-kilometer races to sprinting 800 meters.
“[The transition from cross country to track] has been good,” Feeny said. “I kind of took a longer break, some of us who went to [cross country] nationals didn’t race the first couple meets, so it’s been maybe slower than everyone else, but I feel like it’s been pretty smooth … It’s been different going to the speedy stuff rather than the strength stuff, but it’s worked out fine, I think.”
Utah is trying to build on the success and momentum from the cross country season and hopes to break a few records on the track in 2016.
“I think our team goal is for everyone to keep improving and keep the atmosphere and the feeling that we had during cross country, that was very team-oriented, and competing at a high level,” Feeny said. “If we can get as many people as we can competing at a high level and PRing [setting personal records], that’s our goal.”
The Utes compete next in the Jackson’s Invitational, hosted by Boise State in Nampa, Idaho at the New Balance Boise Indoor Track and Field Center. The meet will span two days from Feb. 5-6.