Louis Ascencio
Staff Writer

Whittier College’s Track & Field 2022 season has been filled with success and record breaking performances by multiple talented athletes that make up the entire team. The SCIAC Championship took place between April 30 – May 1. Many of our athletes represented Whittier in grand fashion. The two-day 2022 SCIAC Championships took place at our very own
Aubrey Bonham Track at Memorial Stadium. Both the Men’s and Women’s Track & Field Teams placed third in the SCIAC Championships. The Men scored a total of 121 points whereas the Women scored 115. 

During the SCIAC Championships, the host Poets delivered some highlights and successful outcomes. Junior Mateo Gomez won the long jump with a leap of 7.05 meters, with teammate Christian Urbina coming in second. In the 200m dash prelims, Gomez set a program record with a time of 21.68. Senior Cooper Tirado earned first-place victory in the 100-meter dash (10.64). Whittier’s squad of Cooper Tirado, Mateo Gomez, Gustavo Lopez, and Christian Urbina came in with a third-place finish in the 4×100-meter relay with a time of 42.40. 

Whittier also competed well in the throwing events, with senior Cameron Kimball winning the SCIAC Championship in the discus with a distance of 44.57m. Classmate, Shazel Sakr, finished second with a 43.18m throw and finished third in the hammer throw with a 42.93m toss. Garrett Silva, a senior pole vaulter who is still among the best in the country, won his trademark event as the only SCIAC contender to clear 4.91m.

In the 10000 m race, senior Benjamin White had the most dominant Poet performance of the day. White took over the 12-man competition, leading from start to finish and increasing his lead margin throughout the 10-kilometer race. The local favorite finished in 30:22.25, looking relatively fresh for someone who had just completed a 6.2-mile race, and was 41 seconds quicker than the next best finisher from Pomona-Pitzer Colleges. As a result, White not only won the SCIAC podium, but also set a new SCIAC Championship meet record by nearly a minute.

Sprinting duo Jasmyn Crawford and Rhe Nae Leach put together two of Whittier’s most remarkable performances of the weekend. Crawford won the 100m dash by lowering her all-time best time to 12.04, bringing her level with her freshman teammate, who set the record in Saturday’s preliminary race with an identical time. After winning the women’s long jump the day before with another program-record mark, Leach finished third in both the 100m and 200m races. Crawford, the 100m champion from Whittier, finished second in the 200m sprint with a program-record time of 24.71, putting her first on both the 100m and 200m all-time rankings. The pair, together with teammates Gabriella Torres Joubert and Mackenzie Reed, went on to win a medal in the 4x100m relay. With a total time of 47.43, the quartet broke the Whittier mark for the second time, making Leach the winningest member of both the men’s and women’s teams with four gold during the weekend. All of the aforementioned times placed in the top ten of the SCIAC’s all-time list.

The Poets were not done, however, with Torres Joubert posting the 4th-fastest 400m time in the nation to claim second on the podium. Whittier also produced SCIAC champions in field events, with senior Jillian Weber winning the javelin and classmate Vanessa Martinez winning the shot put. Weber’s mark was good enough to win the SCIAC title by more than four meters over the next-best thrower, while Martinez dominated the shot put as the only SCIAC thrower to exceed 12 meters with a 12.24m throw that was a new personal best and the second-farthest throw in Whittier history. 

Whittier’s impressive weekend saw few Poets making their SCIAC debuts. With a program record in the pole vault and a second place finish in the conference, junior Emeliza Fernandez brought Memorial Stadium to its feet. Her best leap was 3.57 meters, while sophomore Karissa Ricks came just behind her with a 3.22-meter jump. Another Whittier record was broken when freshman Davina Torres overcame difficulty in the 100m hurdles to finish third in the 400m with a timing of 1:07.48, just one second shy of a new personal best. Torres had earlier set the program 100mH mark with a 15.62 on Saturday.

Senior Vanessa Martinez was the first Poet to receive SCIAC Athlete of the Week recognition for her efforts in the field events during the Pomona-Pitzer All-Comers meet, being named Field Athlete of the Week on Feb. 21. Martinez took second place in the shot put with a throw of 11.26 meters. In addition, she also placed seventh in the hammer throw with a toss of 36.52 meters. 

Junior Jasmyn Crawford was recognized in receiving the title of Track Athlete of the Week on three separate occasions, the first being March 7th. In the track events, Crawford led the Poets against Chapman, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS), La Verne, and Redlands at SCIAC No. 1. Crawford won the 200-meter dash in 25.80 seconds and the 100-meter dash in 10.73 seconds (12.43). Crawford also helped the Whittier 4×100-meter relay team finish second, narrowly behind Redlands’ first-place team. Crawford’s second came during the following week, that being March 14th. At the Occidental Distance Carnival, Jasmyn Crawford led Whittier by setting two program marks. Crawford was a key member of the Poets’ 4×100 meter relay team, which finished second in Division III with a time of 48.25. She subsequently finished second overall (first among Division III competitors) in the 100-meter dash with a mark of 12.21, the season’s fastest official 100-meter time in Division III. Crawford received her third Track Athlete of the Week honor on the week of March 28th. Crawford led Whittier in the track events at the Titus & Ely Meet, setting the fastest time in Division III in the 100-meter dash during the 2022 outdoor season. Crawford sped to a time of 11.97 seconds in the 100-meter dash, fifth in the 200-meter dash, and second in the 4×100-meter relay for the Poets.

Benjamin White was named Men’s Track Athlete of the Week in consecutive weeks between March 7 and March 14. During the week of March 7, White led Whittier in the track events during SCIAC No. 1 with a first-place result in the 5000-meter run. White set the fastest time of 15:00.44, beating out 13 other racers by ten seconds. Chapman, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS), La Verne, and Redlands were among the Poets’ opponents. The following week, White’s performance in the 10,000 meters helped pace Whittier at the Occidental Distance Carnival. White finished 33 seconds quicker than the second-place runner in his first appearance in the event, clocking a time of 30:06.34, which stood as the fastest time in Division III.

Mateo Gomez was recognized as Field Athlete of the Week on March 14, leading Whittier in the Occidental Distance Carnival field events, winning the long jump with a leap of 7.24 meters. That leap was the best in Division III this season, with a margin of .34 meters over the next best finisher. Gomez received Field Athlete of the Week, a second time, for his performance in the long jump in the Titus & Ely Meet. He broke his own Whittier program record and is in the record books with the fourth-longest jump in SCIAC history. Gomez won the event with a leap of 7.47 meters, breaking his personal record and becoming the Division III leader in the event in the 2022 outdoor season.

On the week of March 21, Gabriella Torres Joubert was honored with Track Athlete of the Week. Joubert’s performances in the sprint events at the Redlands Invitational aided Whittier’s progress. Joubert finished first in the 400 meters (58.23 seconds) and sixth in the 200 meters (26.54), completing a top five that included three Poets. She was also a member of the Whittier 4×100-meter relay team, which finished second in a program-record time of 48.18. On April 11th, Senior Garrett Silva was recognized as Field Athlete of the Week. The Poets hosted the Whittier Twilight meet, and Silva led Whittier in the field events. Silva became the first Division III vaulter to clear 5.05 meters in a single try this season, putting him in first place in Division III by 0.9 meters. Jillian Weber was named Field Athlete of the Week for her efforts during the week of April 18. At SCIAC No. 3, Weber led Whittier in the field events. The senior took first place in the event with a toss of 42.91 meters, which was 10 meters farther than the second place finisher. She ranked seventh in Division III with this score.

Along with the success and accomplishments that many of our Poet’s have achieved, other records were broken. Junior Jenna Parker broke the school record for triple jump with her 11.05/36-03 triple jump at the Twilight Meet. Parker discussed her incredible accomplishment, “I was really excited when I did break it, mostly because I just wasn’t expecting it. Especially after a whole year of not jumping at all.” While celebrating her own personal accomplishment, Parker emphasized the entire team’s fantastic season, saying “This season was a very successful one for the whole team. Everyone put in the work and it showed at the SCIAC champs. We got some very talented athletes on this team, and some are going to nationals which is pretty cool. I’m proud of my team, and happy with how I finished this season.”

Jillian Weber broke the school record with a 42.91m/140-09 toss in the javelin throw, which earned her SCIAC Field Athlete of the week. Weber talked about her success and how her mindset has changed throughout this season saying “I really wanted to focus on the fun of it all as this is my last year here at Whittier… I have had to focus on moving on to the next meet and remember that I am able to throw a spear competitively- it’s just so cool and I love it so much! I’ve certainly leaned into the joy and excitement of it all as the season winds down and I get to see my hard work start to pay off.” 

Not only did she express the joy in her own performances, but also how the whole team did. “I am so incredibly proud of the season this team has had! We have been able to come back after two years without athletics and deliver some of the best performance this program has ever seen. Almost every meet, people were breaking school records and moving up in the national rankings.” Weber talked about an amazing opportunity she got, being able to train with Todd Riech, who was a former Olympic javelin thrower. “ I met him at an invitational last summer in Chula Vista and have been so lucky to train with him since then! Being able to receive training from someone so experienced and knowledgeable about the sport is invaluable in a highly technical event like javelin” she said. 

The Poets have displayed some of the best talent in the nation, having the best male pole vaulter in the nation (Garret Silva). As well, the women’s 4×100 relay (Gabriella Torres-Joubert, Jasmyn Crawford, Mackenzie Reed, Rhe Nae Leach), men’s long jumper (Mateo Gomez), women’s long jumper (Rhe Nae Leach), men’s 10,000m runner (Benjamin White), women’s javelin thrower (Jillian Weber), and women’s 100m runner (Jasmyn Crawford), are all currently ranked within the top ten in the nation. There’s no question just how talented the Poet’s Track & Field team is, with outstanding talent comes the recognition that is rightfully deserved. We look forward to seeing how our Poets fare when they will be participating in the NCAA Division III Nationals in Geneva, Ohio later this month. 

Featured Image: Courtesy of wcpoets.com

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