As the Puget Sound outdoor track season sprints towards the Northwest Conference championships, several Loggers have already earned their place at the meet. Some of those athletes also have their sights set on a possible national qualifying time or score.
Among them is sophomore decathlete and loggerathletics.com’s athlete of the week Joe Cerne (Ravensdale, Wash.). Cerne made an impression in the only decathlon event prior to the conference championship, winning the Pacific Preview on March 16 and 17. In doing so, he has established himself as the favorite for the Northwest Conference championship.
After the first five events on Saturday, Cerne stood in fourth place but finished strong in the final five, ending the weekend with 5,863 points. That point total makes his finish seventh-ranked in the school’s history.
The two-sport athlete (Cerne also plays football) estimates that in order to qualify for nationals he will need a score of roughly 6,100 points in the conference meet.
“It’s about putting it together…. Subtle improvement in all areas would do it [reach the 6,100 point mark],” Cerne said, pointing out that he feels he could certainly improve in the shot put, discus, 100-meter dash and high jump.
In addition to the improvements necessary in order for him to make nationals, Cerne emphasized the need for good weather on the day of the conference meet, which will take place April 20-21. Senior sprinter Andrea Leiken (Portland, Ore.) echoed his sentiment, noting the effect of the weather on the results of multiple prior events.
Leiken is enjoying a successful senior season herself. Her 58.22 second time in the 400 meter dash is ranked first in the NWC and fourth in the nation. While she admits that the outdoor season just began last weekend for most Eastern schools, the time puts her solidly in place to qualify for the Division III National Championship meet on May 24-26.
According to Leiken, the top twenty runners will advance to nationals. She currently leads self-described “rival,” Willamette’s Jaela Dinsmoore, by .37 of a second. Dinsmoore took first in the conference in 2011 while Leiken finished second. Leiken also holds the second place spot in the 200 meters, trailing only Dinsmoore.
Leiken and the girls’ 4×400 relay team lead the Lady Loggers to a win at the Payton Scoring Meet last weekend, defeating St. Martin’s, Pacific Lutheran and Olympic College.
“There is a lot of potential on the girls’ side,” Leiken said, adding that she hopes the team finishes in the top three at the NWC meet.
The 4×400 team “has a decent shot at winning conference,” Leiken said. The Loggers set their fastest time of the season at 4:08.27. The mark was set by Leiken, sophomore Alicia Burns (Spokane Valley, Wash.), sophomore Megan Gilbertson (Clackamas, Ore.), and freshman Karina Harper (Portland, Ore.).
While the men’s side did not win the meet, finishing third, they did place first, second, and third in the 1500 meter races. Freshman Josh Seekatz (Philomath, Ore.) finished first with a time of 4:11.38, followed by senior Robert Snowden (Eugene, Ore.) and sophomore Sean Tyree (Minneapolis, Minn.).
Sixteen different Loggers earned conference bids at the Pacific Lutheran Invitational meet on March 10, including Seekatz’s two qualifying times. He qualified in both the steeplechase and 5,000 meter contests.
While only 11 athletes traveled to the Redlands Invitational (it was optional for the Loggers due to spring break), almost every athlete who competed there set either a season best mark or achieved a personal record.
Up next for the team will be the Sam Adams Invitational, a full-team meet at Whitworth.
“There is really good competition there. I’m looking forward to having people to chase after,” Leiken said.
With the way the season is going, it it likely that the Loggers will be able to carry their momentum through the next meet.
PHOTO COURTESY/CHRIS SPALDING