Final day of Track competition puts USA on the Medal Podium
Gwangju, South Korea – July 12, 2015 – The World University Games U.S. Track and Field Team went out shining on its fifth and final day of competition at Universiade 2015 Gwangju. The competition as a whole was a great experience for the entire coaching staff and team; providing first time international competition for many of the athletes. While the weather conditions weren’t always great, the team as whole posted several athletes to the final rounds of their respective races and posted some great marks.
“I feel really good. I am thrilled with the team. The efforts were hard all week. The team battled hard all week. It was an exciting and nerve racking experience, every event I was glued to. You live and die with the events and especially today I was glued to every event” said coach Hoyt.
The final day of competition though was definitely highlighted by the first win and GOLD of the evening going to Shaquille Walker in the men’s 800m. Hovering around the 3rd and 4th position going into the final lap of the race, and with about 75 meters to go, Walker made a burst for the finish line to come in first leaving the rest of the field no where near him. He finished in a time of 1:49.05
“I was focused, I tried to run as smart as I could and stay right behind the leader and let him block a little bit of the wind, and those days when you know you have a little something extra in your leg; it’s no better feeling in the world. I knew those guys were strong up front, to kick with them in this weather, it feels good.”
Also with a great performance in the 800m was Nick Hartle who finished 5th overall with a time of 1:50.73
In other mid-distance action on the track were the two 1500m stars and tag team of Angela Piccirillo and Stephanie Schappert. While it seemed at first that Piccirillo was the one going to make a move for the front of the back, it ended up being Schappert who moved from the middle of the group and put herself into what should have been a comfortable third-place finish, in the last bit though she was out leaned by 0.04 seconds and took 4th overall with a time of 4:19.83. Piccirillo finished 7th overall with a time of 4:23.40
In field action today were Zibby Boyer and Lexy Walker in the women’s high jump. The two ladies were facing heavy gusts of winds and rain that was coming down from all angels but were able to battle through. Walker finished with a mark of 1.75m and 16th overall while Boyer finished with a mark of 1.80m to take silver.
“The weather was ridiculous today and just had to go into with and attitude that we were all in the same boat and that it was a joke. Talking like that with the girls was really cool and made it easy to stay calm throughout the competition. This was a great way to close out my career.”
Rounding out the track events were the relay events. The women’s 4x100m team took Silver with a time of 44.95. The team consisted of Ana Holland, Kylie Price, Jade Barber, and Nataliyah Friar. Holland made up some great ground on the first curve since the team was placed in lane 3 and while the hand off between Barber and Friar wasn’t the smoothest, they were able to hold onto the stick and keep their ground to make it onto the podium.
The women’s 4x400m relay finished of A’keyla Mitchell, Maddie Kopp, Kimberly Mackay, and Alissa Martinez finished in 3:37.40 to take the bronze medal while the mens team had an outstanding performance and time of 3:06.56 to finish in what we all thought was silver, but was the team was supposed to podium their race was under protest. After official review, an international ruling, that is not upheld in the US under normal NCAA rules was called against the team for “pushing-off” and the team was disqualified.
This was an unfortunate calling for the men’s relays teams but ultimately still a great day for the U.S. team here in Gwangju.
“We put them (the men’s team) in a really good position, they did exactly what we asked them to do.” Now regarding the protest “It’s a learning experience, but it’s an unfortunate set of circumstances where the South African team stepped out of the exchange zone disqualifying themselves and it was an automatic reaction to step up, no fault to themselves.”-Coach Dalton
Regarding the women’s victories, “On both relays, everyone did exactly what we needed them to do. The podium was our aim and we obtained that.”
There was some great competition the last five days that was left all out on the track. For the U.S. team, while the result wasn’t always quite what was hoped for, it was still a successful meet. Until the next games, congrats to all the winners and competitors!