Solomon’s sub-four mile highlights successful weekend at Meyo Invitational
Nate Moller | Monday, February 6, 2023
The Irish track and field team had a very successful weekend at the Meyo Invitational by winning multiple events and recording some national qualifying marks and times.
Head coach Matt Sparks was encouraged by the steps his team made this weekend.
“We’re kind of in that time of the year where we are setting up for conference and national seedings. We took some steps forward in those regards,” Sparks said.
The Irish got off to a quick start in day one of the meet with sophomore Jadin O’Brien taking first place in the women’s pentathlon. O’Brien finished first in three of the five events, winning the 60m hurdles, long jump and 800m race.
With that performance, O’Brien is now ranked second in the country in the pentathlon.
“It was a nice win, but it also places her second in the country in that event right now,” Sparks said. “It was very encouraging in that she had several events where she was not at her best, so there’s a lot of room for growth for her. She still hit a mark that was number two in the country.”
Junior Michael Shoaf continued his early season dominance as well by winning the shot put with a throw of 19.31m. Sparks said he hopes that Shoaf can continue to improve and qualify for the national meet in coming weeks.
“He just keeps winning,” Sparks said. “The next step for him is to get a mark that puts him in the national meet. He just keeps climbing up the national list, but he is still just on the outside of the qualifier’s list. He needs to find a little bit more to push himself into the national meet. He’s got the top mark in the ACC, which is something else we are shooting for in an ACC Championship.”
Elsewhere in the field, sophomore Madison Schmidt took first in the high jump with a mark of 1.80m.
“That mark puts her number one in the ACC,” Sparks said. “First thing we look at is what we can do nationally and secondly we look at how many points we can score at the national meet or maybe win a title. We’ve got four or five athletes who are knocking on the door of an ACC championship when we go to Louisville in a couple of weeks, and she is definitely in the conversation for that right now.”
In the invitational’s signature mile races, the Irish also had success. On the women’s side, junior Olivia Markezich finished second with a time of 4:34.00. Senior Katie Thronson and graduate student Anna Sophia Keller also competed, finishing with times of 4:37.34 and 4:40.94, respectively.
In the men’s Meyo Mile, sophomore Carter Solomon placed third with a blazing fast time of 3:57.13, which was his first sub-four mile of his career. Junior Jake Renfree also finished the race in a time of 4:02.21.
Sparks discussed the sub-four effort from Solomon.
“For him, it was a nice accomplishment to break four, but what it really does for him more than anything is it gives him a lot of confidence because he’s more of a longer distance runner. He’s more of a 5K runner than a miler,” Sparks said.
Solomon’s and Renfree’s performances in the mile gives Sparks confidence for the distance medley relay going forward as well.
“It also gives us a lot of hope for the distance medley relay, which is another event we take a lot of pride in. With [Solomon’s] mile time and Jake Renfree wasn’t too far behind him in that mile and our men’s sprinters stepped up, so we are feeling more confident about that event as we approach the postseason,” Sparks said.
In the women’s 3000m race, sophomore Siona Chisholm finished first with a time of 9:04.48. Sophomores Erin Strzelecki and Sophie Novak also finished the race in times of 9:22.96 and 9:24.63, respectively. In the Ryan Shay 3000m run, freshman John Schuler took fifth with a time of 8:16.63. Sophomore Ryan Schumacher also finished in a time of 8:22.22.
Sparks said he thought Chisholm raced a great race, considering she ran a large portion of the race by herself.
“She’s a new kid to our program because she was a transfer from a Canadian university, but she’s still young. She’s only a sophomore,” Sparks said. “She had to run a lot of that race by herself, so I know she’s got more in her, whether that’s in the 3K or the mile.”
Sparks has enjoyed seeing Chisholm and Markezich train well together and push each other towards national accolades.
“[Chisholm] and Olivia [Markezich] have really trained well together,” Sparks said. “Both of them are in the top 16 in the nation in those two different events. They have really pushed each other to achieve national level accolades in the last couple of months.”
The Irish track and field community also came together this past weekend by officially dedicating the weight throw event to late throws coach Adam Beltran, who passed away last September.
Sparks discussed how meaningful Beltran was to the program during his 15 years of coaching.
“Adam Beltran was here for 15 years and had three different head coaches. We had probably 50-75 people here yesterday to honor him. The people that threw for him 15 years ago came back into town for the weekend to memorialize him, not just in the competition, but we had a weekend full of events,” Sparks said.
Sparks talked about the impact Beltran had on the lives of his athletes both on and off the field.
“As coaches we try to make impacts on people’s lives through athletics, but along the way if you’re a good X’s and O’s coach, you make a big impact on their lives outside of sport,” Sparks said. “It is always neat to see when alumni come back to town and talk about their relationship with Adam. It makes it all worthwhile. Adam’s parents were in town and they got to hear the stories. I know it was really special for his entire family to really see the support that he had in that moment at the meet.”
The Irish will be in action next weekend with most athletes going to the Windy City Invite in Chicago. Carter Solomon and graduate student Kevin Berry will head out to the Valentine’s Invite in Boston where Solomon will look to run a national qualifying time in the 5K.