Freshman Connor Hickey stole the show on Saturday for the Valparaiso University track and field squads on the second day of competition at the 2016 Horizon League Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Valparaiso, rallying to earn the event victory in the decathlon. Hickey’s performance led the Crusader men as they closed the day in third place, while the Valpo women sit in seventh position entering the meet’s final day.
After a beautiful start to the meet weather-wise on Friday, Saturday’s action at the three-day event started off with a one-hour lightning delay, followed by dropping temperatures and increasing wind. The day’s events included the remaining events in the men’s decathlon and women’s heptathlon, sprint prelims, and continuing action in the field events.
Hickey edged Milwaukee’s Noah Meeteer for first place in the decathlon by 21 points, but that only begins to tell the story. Hickey trailed Meeteer by over 350 points through eight events, and despite topping the field in the javelin throw with a toss of 149’0” – event number nine – was still 262 points back of Meeteer and in third place. But the freshman kicked it into high gear in the 1,500m run, crossing the line in 4:27.23 – besting the entire field by better than 34 seconds and erasing his entire deficit versus Meeteer to crown him the 2016 Horizon League Decathlon Champion. Hickey’s total of 5,774 points is the second-best effort in the decathlon in program history.
Senior Elijah Owen finished third overall in the decathlon, scoring 5543 points. Owen topped the field in the discus portion with a distance of 100’3”, placed second behind Hickey in the javelin throw with a distance of 148’3” and was third-best in the pole vault, reaching a height of 12’7 1/2”.
In the field events Saturday, senior Jacob Smutz finished in fourth place in the discus with a throw of 153’7, earning 5 points for the Crusaders. Sophomore Johnathon Heagy finished in fourth place in the high jump, clearing 6’6 3/4” to set a new PR and move into a tie for fifth place in program history, while sophomore Montell Hall earned a sixth-place finish in the long jump, leaping 22’2 1/2” – also a new PR.
On the track, prelims kicked off with sophomore Brandon Riley qualifying for Sunday’s 400m dash finals , crossing the line in a season-best time of 49.43 seconds to post the seventh-fastest qualifying time. Junior Jeru Lollis finished sixth in the prelims of the 100m dash to qualify for Sunday’s final with a time of 10.89 seconds.
Freshman Alexander Bruno will enter Sunday as the top qualifier in the 800m run, as he placed first in the prelims - crossing the line in 1:56.75. Teammate Ben Zibricky moved on to Sunday’s final as well with a time of 1:57.64, the fifth-fastest qualifier. Zibricky also led Valpo in the 3,000m steeplechase with a ninth-place finish, covering the distance in 9:42.48, while Lollis paced the Crusaders in the 200m dash prelims with a time of 22.20 seconds and freshman Quinten Holley posted a new PR in the 110m hurdle prelims, crossing the line in 16.42 seconds.
Freshman Abby Jankowski scored a pair of points in the throws for the Crusader women on Saturday, placing seventh in the discus throw with a toss of 117’1”. In the jumps Saturday, senior Ann Chapman finished in 12th position in the long jump with a mark of 16’6 1/2”.
Junior Liz Bloy cruised around the track in the 3,000m steeplechase to a third-place finish, earning six points for the Crusaders as she crossed the line at 11:03.56. Sophomore Hannah Reynard qualified for Sunday’s final in the 400m hurdles, covering the one-lap event in a season-best time of 1:05.63. Other top performances for the Crusaders Saturday included junior Laura Lacquement in the 100m dash (13.38), senior Cleo Holt in the 200m dash (26.15), sophomore Asia Banks in the 400m dash (1:00.03) and junior Victoria Tamburrino in the 800m run (2:25.61).
The Crusader men currently sit in third place overall with 68 points, just six points behind Milwaukee for second, as Youngstown State sits in first with 99 points. The women’s team currently sits in seventh place with 19 points, while Milwaukee and Youngstown State are tied for the led with 99 points entering the final day tomorrow.
The final day of the 2016 Horizon League Outdoor Championships will begin at 10 a.m. with field events starting things off before the finals in the running events begin at 11 a.m. Live scoring will be available via ValpoAthletics.com.