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Track & Field

Westmont Athletes Finish Strong at NAIA Track & Field Nationals

Michael Oldach finished second in the men's 1500, Emily Parks placed third in the women's 400 meter hurdles and Seth Wilmoth claimed third place in the men's pole vault for Westmont on the final day of the NAIA Track & Field National Championships in Gulf Shores, Ala.

As a result of the points garnered by Oldach and Parks, Westmont men's team finished eighth in the team scoring out of 115 teams. The Warriors tallied 26 points to claim their best finish in program history.

The women's team collected 17 points to tie for 19th place with South Carolina Beaufort. There were 105 women's teams represented at the championship event.

Oldach shaved 1.66 seconds off his previous best performance to finish as the national runner-up. At the end, the sophomore was closing in on Mackenzie Wahpepah-Harris of Oklahoma City in first place but missed catching him by 0.19 seconds.

"It showed a lot of growth in one year," said Westmont head coach Russell Smelley, "Last year he ran a personal best here, but not a competitive best. This year, he came in focused, ready to compete well and he did."

Said Oldach: "I wasn't too pleased with the way I ran. After the first lap, I kind of got boxed and pushed into a position around sixth or seventh. I made a nice little move on the third lap coming home and got into a better position. 

"We've been working on my speed and strength all year long. So, I had the strength to bring it back home and the speed to almost get the guy. I think I had a little more, so I am a little frustrated with the way I ran, but it was a good race."

Parks  secured a personal record, knocking 1.40 seconds off her previous best time and crossing the finish line with a time of 60.38 seconds.

"To have a personal best by over a second is fantastic at the national meet," said Smelley. "She kept right on the pace she should have, kept her composure on the turn and fought for the home stretch."

Said Parks: "I knew from the start that I was going to have to get out faster than I have been getting out and be more aggressive in the beginning of the race. "I struggled a little bit on the back stretch with a few stutters and felt a little discouraged. I have a good kick and at the 150 (meters to go), I could see the other runners were fading. I was just trying to keep my eyes on the finish line and hunt down the runner that was in first."

Wilmoth missed his first attempt at the opening height of 4.50 meters (14-9) and did not miss again until after he had set a new Westmont record of 4.90 meters (16-0.75). The vault made the freshman the first Westmont vaulter to clear 16 feet. The record-setting vault gave him a third place finish in the national championship.

"It feels so good," said Wilmoth. "Coming in here, I was really shooting for the school record of 4.87 (meters). Clearing 4.90 was my main goal. I wanted to be All-American. I wasn't sure what that was going to look like height-wise. First priority was 4.90. Having my teammates up there supporting me is incredible. Having them all be here and staying and watching was really cool. It's a great way to end the year." 

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