The sun beats down on the sunburned athletes as they wait for the familiar sound.
Crack! The referee’s gun fires and the sprinters are off.
Fourth seed Olivia Rose sprints down the sixth lane, stride for stride with Spokane College’s Mertece Hatchett.
Their elbows nearly collide as Rose lunges across the finish taking second place in the 100-meter dash with a personal best of 12.5 seconds.
Clark track and field athletes earned 14 top-three finishes in the NWAC Track and Field Championships May 22-23, three of which were earned by Rose. The women’s team placed fourth overall and the men finished in sixth, with the teammates earning an accumulative 37 top-eight finishes in 42 events.
The women scored eight points less than third-place winner Clackamas College, 106.5 to 114.5 points. Clark track and field has not won a NWAC Championship title since 2003.
Head coach Robert Williams said the Clark teams performed very well overall, even though neither team has placed in the top three at the NWAC Championships since Williams began coaching, four years ago.
Clark’s men’s track team earned several personal bests in track events, with top five finishes from Zach Kanelis, Dan Nehnevaj and others.
Nehnevaj placed fifth in the 10000-meter run with a 34:40.25 time and seventh in the 5000-meter run with a time of 16:02.96 just missing his personal bests of 33:48.35 and 15:58.96.
Kanelis, a short distance runner, placed third in the 800-meter with a season best of 1:55.53 and aided Clark in the 4×400-meter relay with a fourth place finish.
Nehnevaj will be transferring to West Virginia Tech University and Kanelis is looking to transfer to Western Oregon University, according to Williams.
Clark had four point-earning finishes in field events, including shot putter James Niemela and Tupre Wickliff.
Niemela placed second with a new season best. Niemela threw a seed throw of 47’ 5.25’’ feet, with a final of 49’ 4.5’’ feet.
Despite Niemela’s success, not all athletes feel they performed their best. Wickliff, for example, did not achieve a personal best or reach his goal of a second or third place finish.
“I’m a little disappointed with the overall place. I wanted to place a little bit higher,” Wickliff said.
After finishing third in the previous year’s high jump, Wickliff said his “form was just not what it needed to be that day.”
Despite not placing higher, Wickliff said his time at Clark was a good experience and enjoyable. “It will definitely help prepare me for the years ahead,” Wickliff said.
Rose, who earned the NWAC Championship Field Athlete of the Meet award, said her last meet at Clark was “bitter-sweet.”
Although Rose earned personal bests in all of her events, she said it will be sad leaving her “family,” referring to her fellow teammates.
Rose’s personal bests include 10 inches further in long jump (18’ 7.75”) and a full foot further in triple jump (38’ 6”). Both jumps qualify Rose for Brigham Young University’s team next year, according to the requirement set by BYU’s jump coach Stephani Perkins.
Rose finished the NWAC Championships with two first places, one second place, a third place and a fourth place in her five events.
Clark’s women’s track and field athletes Chloe Lindbo and Makala Gardner accompany Rose in the top three finishers of field events. Lindbo placed third in the heptathlon high jump at 4’ 11” feet and Gardner finished third in the discus throw at 114’ 9” feet.
Continuing their performances, Rose and Lindbo were among Clark athletes Cassie McKinney, Sadie Dalgleish and Aislynn Hansen for top three places in track events.
McKinney had the most dominant performance of any track athlete during the NWAC Championships finals finishing over 24 seconds ahead of second place finisher Kaylee Marquardt of Spokane College.
“We expected to win but we didn’t expect to win quite in that fashion,” said Williams on McKinney’s performance.
McKinney and Dalgleish both placed in the top eight for two events and second in another at the meet. McKinney earned her second place finish in the 1500-meter run with a time of 4:52.14.
Dalgleish earned second in the 3000-meter steeplechase with a time of 11:59.29, breaking Clark’s school record for the second time this season.
Dalgleish, along with many other well-placed athletes on the team, is a sophomore and will graduate from Clark this year.
Williams said he thinks the freshmen performed well and that recruiting for next year is underway.