Women take top spot at first away meet of indoor season

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At the Fred Wilt Invitational at Anderson University on Saturday, the DePauw women’s track and field team scored 94 points and took first place out of a total of 10 teams. The men finished in a tie for 12th, with seven points, out of 15 teams. Wabash won the meet with 141.16 points. The invitational was the last meet of the season before the North Coast Athletic Conference Indoor Championship at Denison University next weekend.

Leading the way for the Tigers was junior Jillian Balser, who broke the DePauw indoor pole vault record (10-feet-4), surpassing senior Taryn Owens’s own record-breaking performance last weekend at the DePauw Classic. Balser’s jump was good enough for a first place finish. Other meet champions included freshman Heather O’Brien in the one mile run (5:20.18) and the 4×200 relay team, which dropped almost three seconds from their previous best.

Balser was pleased with her performance, especially just a week after failing to complete 10-feet-3, and only her second week of jumping in competition this season. She said the healthy relationship between herself and Owens is something that both use to keep improving.

“We’re both very supportive and we work off each other,” Balser said. “We’ll just have to keep setting the bar higher…we’re just really proud of each other whenever (one of us) does well.”

Head coach Kori Stoffregen called it a “pretty good meet for the women.”

“We’re still piecing some things together so it was nice to have something go well, and obviously winning the meet was fun,” Stoffregen said.

Senior Noah Droddy was the lone champion for the Tigers on the men’s side, winning the 3,000 meter run (8:53.08), his first run of the 2013 indoor season.

“The time wasn’t as fast as I wanted, but really the goal is just to go and just compete and get used to racing again,” Droddy said. “I was happy with it. It was a nice little rust buster.”

As far as the rest of the team, Stoffregen was frank in his summary of the men’s team, calling attention to the number of significant injuries to athletes on the team as well as the lack of depth.

“We just don’t have a lot of scoring power right now on the men’s side, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens next week at the conference,” Stoffregen said.

Droddy expressed similar concerns about the team, but was hopeful about the team’s performance next weekend.

“We don’t have a huge team right now,” Droddy said. “It’s really not beneficial to have a whole lot of people out. It’s always slow coming back from Winter Term. We just want to go out there and do as much as we can.”

For two female athletes, the indoor championship started early with the weekend-long pentathlon at Wooster College. Senior Lee Harmon placed seventh overall. Owens also competed, but dropped out before completing all five events. The team leaves Thursday for Denison.