Over the weekend the University of Utah Track and Field team had four athletes compete in the NCAA Division I West Preliminary Round. Freshman Amanda Gehrich ran in the 1500-meter run, freshman Ann Wingeleth performed in the long jump, sophomore Christine Glasmann was in the javelin and junior Grayson Murphy raced in the 5000-meter run and 3000-meter steeplechase. In the end, Murphy was the only Ute to punch a ticket to the NCAA Championships where she will compete in the steeplechase.
“Grayson comes every day ready to compete,” said head coach Kyle Kepler. “It was amazing to see how smooth she made it work. She got in and out of the water easier, she understood her strength and weaknesses and she was coachable. Because of that, she came out with a new personal best.”
Murphy finished first in her heat and second overall with a 10:04.35 mark.
“I felt like I was in complete control,” Murphy said. “I sat and waited, and when the time was right I went for it and it paid off, but I know I can still run faster, and I’m excited for the chance to show that.”
On Saturday, Murphy wrapped up the weekend for the Utes with her final race in the 5000-meter run. She finished with a time of 17:03.92, No. 22 overall.
Thursday evening, Gehrich qualified for the second round of the 1500-meter run that was set to take place on Saturday. She finished that event No. 21 overall with a time of 4:33.49.
“Amanda is a true freshman who competed the deepest field I’ve ever seen,” Kepler said. “To get herself moved up in the ranking from what she entered at is outstanding. She has great perspective of herself and what she can do, and she understood and learned from her race. I’m excited to see what the future brings for her.”
Wingeleth entered the weekend with a personal best mark of 6.13m. She competed in her event Thursday night and after a foul on her third jump, she still managed to tie for No. 26 overall with a mark of 19 feet, 8.25 inches (6.0m).
“Ann did an amazing job,” Kepler said. “This was another deep field and in order for her to have moved on, she would have had to beat her personal best by nearly 8 cm. She went after it in her last jump and unfortunately fouled, but she is a young kid with a bright future in our program.”
Glasmann entered the competition ranked No. 28 overall in the javelin with a mark of 47.61m. After a tough weekend, she finished with a mark of 120 feet, 2 inches to fall to No. 47 overall.
“It just wasn’t her day,” Kepler said. “It was a tough day on the runway for whatever reason. There is no good answer that either I or her can give for what happened, it just wasn’t clicking for her. Every athlete experiences that, but we know and she knows, she’s better than that, and she’ll work harder this off-season and be back even better next year.”
Kepler is proud of his athletes and for what they have accomplished throughout the year, and he looks forward to the future and success the team will have.
“We still have one more meet to support Grayson at,” Kepler said. “She’s going to stay focused and consistent, and I know she’s going to compete. She’s not afraid. But overall, all these kids have improved and had great years. We were a young squad this year and made great improvements. I was very pleased with the way the whole squad competed all year, and next year we’ll be even better.”
Murphy will return to action and finish her season at the NCAA Championships that will take place Wednesday, June 7, through Saturday, June 10 in Eugene, Ore.