Yeomen and Yeowomen Open Season at Kent State Gala

Sarena Malsin, Staff Writer

The track and field team opened its season at the Kent State Golden Gala last Saturday in record-breaking fashion. First-year Monique Newton set a new school record in the women’s shot put with a 13.93-meter throw on her second attempt. The throw earned her third place in the competition, the highest among all first-years.

In addition to setting the school record, Newton was also named the North Coast Athletic Conference Female Field Athlete of the Week and is currently the Division III national leader in the shot put.

Needless to say, Head Track and Field Coach Ray Appenheimer was impressed with the strong showing.

“I can say easily that was the single best freshman performance we’ve ever had at Oberlin College,” he said.

Newton attributed the strong performance to staying level-headed, a tough task considering that the Gala was her first-ever meet. The lack of a boisterous crowd only helped her maintain focus.

“I wouldn’t even say I was nervous,” she said. “It’s a different feeling in indoor — it’s much quieter.”

Newton was far from the only first-year to shine in the season opener. First-year Caracol Haley finished fourth in the women’s 800-meter run in her inaugural collegiate track competition, coming in at 2 minutes, 25.56 seconds.

Fellow first-year Lilah Drafts-Johnson also shined, claiming two 11th-place finishes: one in the triple jump with a leap of 10.33 meters, and one as a member of the women’s 4×400 meter relay. Drafts-Johnson and seniors Margaret Miller, Katharine Skayhan and Nuria Alishio-Caballero put their relay team across the finish line with a time of 4:22.21.

Appenheimer was pleased after the performance and sees the sky as the limit for the team this season.

“If this is any indication of how the rest of the season will go, then the bar is set pretty high,” he said.

A number of strong performances by upperclassmen also gave the team reason to celebrate.

The Yeomen saw inspiring performances from senior captains Jerry Choi and Evan Finch. Choi led the team with two eighth-place finishes in the 400-meter dash and the 4×400-meter relay, also finishing 23rd in the men’s 200-meter dash with a time of 23.29. Finch, meanwhile, set a personal record with a jump of 1.85 meters in the high jump.

Though the Yeomen and Yeowomen will not be competing again until after winter break — Friday, Jan. 9 at the Dan Kinsey Invitational — the Kent State Gala was a good chance for the teams to get a competition under their belts before heading into the rest of their season.

The long layoff until the next meet will also give the team’s distance runners a chance to recover from their cross-country seasons. Most of them did not attend the Gala, but for the sprinters, throwers and jumpers, the competition was a welcome opportunity to showcase their skills.

“For the track and field team members, it’s so gratifying to actually get to go,” said Coach Appenheimer. “They’ve been kind of caged up all fall long, looking forward to just one competition before we all go away for break.”

Though the tough part of the season has yet to begin, the opening meet was a good time for members of the team to measure their progress and hard work.

“We’ve been working so hard for the last three months, so everyone was like, ‘Let’s see how this goes, so we can build on it,’” Newton said. “Everyone did great, and I’m really looking forward to the rest of indoor and the outdoor season.”