It was another successful meet for the University of Utah track and field team which competed in the University of Washington Invitational in Seattle this past weekend. The Utes competed in the 3,000 and 800-meter events and the 400-meter dash. Over the span of the two-day competition, several athletes broke personal records.
Distance runner Poppy Tank was one of the athletes that broke a record she had previously set. In the 3,000-meter race, Tank finished 10 seconds earlier with a time of 9:22.22. This put her in fifth place overall in school history. Tank knew what she was capable of accomplishing, and she had the mentality to chase her goal down.
“I spoke to my coach, and he said, ‘Aim roughly for your PR [personal record],’ and I knew in my head I could run faster than that,” Tank said. “I knew there were some really fast runners in my race. I was in a good heat, and I just thought go out and relax and just try and really have a good time if I can, and then I ended up way faster than expected to run at this time of year.”
Tank wasn’t the only athlete who set a new personal best in the 3,000-meter event. Jessica Sams and Louise Mercer, who placed 14th and 21st respectively, did as well. Sams broke her previous record by over two seconds to put her in 8th place in school history. Bella Williams, who placed in 31st, recorded an improved time, while Trina Moreno also broke her previous record.
In the 800-meter, new times were also clinched. Caitlin Faust finished with a time of 2:10.95, which gave her a 12th place finish, and it put her in 7th place in the school record books.
While there were no new records set in the 400-meter race, the Utes still had success. Alissa Atisme led the charge finishing in 13th place, posting a time of 56.54, and Jackie Martin earned a time of 56.91 for an 18th place finish.
“Even the girls who didn’t run PR’s [personal records] or whatnot, showed a lot of mental toughness,” Kepler said. “Maybe they caught a bad break in their race or whatever, but overall I’m very pleased with the effort of everybody.”
Tank believes that the new records that were set by several Utes will serve as a boost of confidence for the team, but it won’t get caught up in the results.
“It’s early in the season so you don’t want to burn yourself out chasing times,” Tank said. “But I think we are in really good shape this year.”
The Utes are back in action on Friday, Feb. 2 for the Mountain State Games in Pocatello, Idaho.