ALLENDALE, Mich. - The Northern Illinois track & field team started their weekend Friday at the GVSU Big Meet with several big performances on the track.
In the meet's invitational portion, the Huskies notched three top 10 finishes and got Mid-American Conference Indoor Championship-qualifying marks from sprinters Janay Mitchell and Megan Gregory.
"The ladies got off to a great start in our first day of competition at Grand Valley," said NIU head coach Connie Teaberry. "Megan Gregory and Janay Mitchell sealed automatic MAC Championship qualifying times in the 60 hurdles and 60 meters. Along with them, we had impressive efforts from Jamie Burr, Julie Cronin and Ashley Lucas, who achieved PRs in their events. Meghan Heuer, in her first race as a Huskie, notched the third fastest time in NIU history in the 3000 meters. Tomorrow, we need these ladies' efforts and continue to leave it on the track."
Mitchell placed seventh in the 60 meters with a pair of excellent runs. After running a 7.67 in the prelims, she crossed the finish line at 7.63, securing her an automatic spot into the conference indoor meet in two weeks. Mitchell's run is currently tied for the fifth-fastest in the conference and just six-hundredths of a second behind the MAC's top mark of 7.57.
In the 60 hurdles, Gregory clinched a berth into the MAC indoor meet with a stellar run in the prelims. The senior clocked in at 8.65 to post the fourth-fastest time in the first run. However, Gregory fell back to seventh in the finals with a time of 8.69. Her season-best time of 8.65 puts her in seventh in the conference performance list.
Julianne Cronin blasted her personal record in the 400 meters with a time of 58.08 to finish 21st. Previously, the sophomore's best time in the event was 59.26.
Over in the distance events, Meghan Heuer made her NIU debut in the 3000 meters. Despite having last competed in a collegiate meet nearly two years ago while at Kansas State, the sophomore showed little rust by racing to a time of 10:12.23 and a 17th place finish.
Freshman Ali Olson and sophomore Jamie Burr both came away with strong showings in the mile. Olson, making her collegiate debut, placed 31st with a 5:10.92 clip, while Burr followed behind with a mark of 5:11.13.
Juliane Totzke led the NIU contingent in the 5000 meters with a time of 17:59.61 to place 37th in the 109 runner field. Following behind were Leah Raffety timing in at 18:19.29 and Ashley Lucas at 18:46.83.
Sidra Sherrill, the lone field athlete competing on the day, took eighth in the shot put with a toss of 44-00.00 (13.41m).
The competition continues at Grand Valley tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. CT with the open half of the meet.