The spring break weekends proved to be a great end to senior Mike Burgstrom’s prolific collegiate indoor track and field career. Burgstrom’s four years at UR culminated with the award of Atlantic Region Male Field Event Athlete for the indoor season, named to him by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
The honor was voted on by all of the coaches in each of the eight regions of the country.
On the weekend of March 7 and 8, both the men’s and women’s track and field teams took qualifiers to the Eastern College Athletic College Championships at Harvard University.
Burgstrom helped lead the men to a three-way tie for 12th place among 73 competing teams and 58 scoring teams. He placed second in the weight throw with a throw of 18.46 meters. This was the first time all season that he did not place first in a Division III competition.
It was not just Burgstrom, however, who accounted for this 12th-place finish for the Yellowjackets. The ‘Jackets totaled 20 points in the meet, and senior Dan Mueller was the first UR runner to earn points for the team, gaining two in his seventh-place finish in the 5,000. His time of 15:04.87 was a personal best.
Mueller was the only Yellowjacket to score on Friday, but the team was hoping for some help from its members who had yet to compete.
This help came when Burgstrom earned eight points for the team with his second-place finish and when freshman Andrew Lee produced a fourth-place finish in the 500. He clocked in at 1:06.27, tallying a personal best as well as five more team points. Sophomore Tyle Stelzig also came away from the day with a helpful personal-best performance, finishing the 3,000 in 8:43.95 – good enough for fifth place and four more points for the Yellowjackets.
The final point came from senior Mark Stevens, who has struggled to run at the same level he once did after a foot injury at the end of the 2006 cross country season. He placed eighth in the 1-mile run with a time of 4:18.98.
The following weekend, Burgstrom traveled to Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio for the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships. His second-place finish at ECACs dropped him out of the top seed, but he was still a favorite entering the weekend, as his personal-best throw of 18.53 meters was the top throw in Division III for much of the indoor season. The competition surprised everyone, however, and Burgstrom’s throw of 18.25 left him at fourth in the event. His placement was not as much of a reflection of a sub-par performance by Burgstrom but rather an above-average performance by the rest of the participants since his once top-distance throw of 18.53 would have also placed him fourth in the event.
Despite this disappointment, the throw still earned him All-American honors for the second year in a row.
Although the women’s track and field team didn’t send anyone to the national championship meet, it did share success in ECAC competition.
The women’s score of 23.5 points placed them 15th of 73 teams who competed and among 51 scoring teams.
On the first day of competition, junior Jamie Landry, who helped secure the team’s win in the state championships a few weeks ago, had two personal bests to place second in the pentathlon. She started out with a career-best time of 8.92 seconds in the 55 hurdles and another personal-best performance in the high jump, where she cleared 1.63 meters. After this event, Landry was in the lead and held it through the shot put and the long jump. She was unable to keep it, however, when she was edged by the eventual champion in the 800. Her total of 3,113 points was just 57 behind the winner and was also a personal best.
Senior Anjuli Cherukuri also had an outstanding day, adding five points to the Yellowjackets’ total with a personal-best pole vault.
By clearing the bar set at 3.37 meters, not only did she tie for fourth in the event, but she also broke the school record.
Freshman Casey Green clocked in at the 55 preliminaries with a time of 7.38 seconds, but she was unable to qualify for the finals and finished 10th. UR ended the day with 12.5 points.
On Saturday, senior Stacie Woods started the ‘Jackets off with a fourth-place finish in the 500 for five points with a time of 1:19.50. Woods then joined with Green, sophomore Prashanthi Chodagiri and freshman Jackie Cinella to place sixth in the 4×400 relay with a time of 4:02.43.
Sophomores Lisa Cole, Heather Graham and Allie McComb and senior Kellie Hasselwander also teamed up to run the 4×800 relay and earned UR two more points with a seventh-place finish when they crossed the line in 4:02.43. It was Landry who came back to earn the ‘Jackets their final point of the meet when she cleared 1.56 meters in the high jump.
There were many other near top-eight finishers for the Yellowjackets, however. Junior Jonelle Redhead threw the weight 14.37 meters for a 10th-place finish, and Cole ran the 1,000 in 3:04.56 for another 10th-place finish. Green almost hit the point-earning mark for the second time of the weekend when she ran the 200 in 26.36 seconds for ninth place.
The meets over spring break ended the indoor season for the Yellowjackets, and they now look toward the outdoor season.
Philbrick is a member of the class of 2009.