Track: Teams win 10 events, post strong finishes

Monday, April 7 2008 - EIU Big Blue

Athletes make up for cold weather on second day

By: Dan Cusack/Sports Reporter

Posted: 4/7/08

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Junior middle distance runner David Holm competes in the 1,500 meter run during the Big Blue Classic Saturday at O'Brien Stadium. Holm placed second in the event with a time of 3:51.67. (Nora Maberry | The Daily Eastern News)The Eastern men's and women's track teams battled the weather on both days of the EIU Big Blue Classic.

Friday saw the athletes battle cold weather in most of the throwing events and a number of distance races. On Saturday, the weather was perfect for a meet.

Either way, the Panthers shined liked Saturday's sun this weekend as the teams finished with 10 event wins.

The first day saw wins from both the men's and women's track teams.

Freshman distance runner Brad LaRocque won the 10,000-meter run (31 minutes, 47.25 seconds).

"I want to qualify for junior nationals in the summer, and I was going have to break 32 minutes," LaRocque said.

LaRocque said teammate Brad Butler paced him for the first 20-of-25 laps, but then Butler dropped off and let LaRocque go.

LaRocque said he felt a rush during the last five laps but was also battling asthma because the cold weather caused it to flare up.

Junior thrower Rachel Galligan threw in her first meet following the Eastern women's basketball season and won the javelin with a throw of 131 feet, 6 inches.

Junior sprinter Samantha Manto had another close race with teammate junior hurdler Chandra Golden on Friday in the 400-meter hurdles.

The two battled last weekend at the EIU Invite with Golden winning by two-tenths of a second.

Manto bested Golden on Friday by .26 seconds to finish in 1:03.49.

"The good thing about having us in the same race is we push each other," Manto said. "If we take turns coming one-two every time and our times are dropping, that is all we care about."

Golden was still a winner as she won the 100-meter hurdles (14.43 seconds).

Golden said the difference in weather made running different each day.

"(Friday) it was very, very frigid out," Golden said. "But (on Saturday) we got really good weather to make up for (Friday)."

Golden said running in cold weather is difficult, but it is a matter of mentality.

"It is mind over matter," Golden said. "I had a (personal record) yesterday, so it was all good."

Senior Mike Embry was able to pull off a victory Saturday in a close race in the men's 110-meter hurdles.

Embry won the event with a time of 14.93 seconds, which was good enough to beat Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Justin Bohler by two-hundredths of a second.

"I knew I had him coming out of the ninth hurdle," Embry said. "I knew it was going to be close after the 10th hurdle. I just had in my mind, push it, give it everything you got."

Despite winning, Embry thought one of his teammates would place first in the event.

"I actually thought my teammate (sophomore) Thomas Evans was going to take that race," Embry said. "He's more of a 110-meter hurdle guy. I'm more of a 60-meter hurdles, but you never throw away a win."

Other winners for the Panthers included sophomore thrower Kandace Arnold, who won the shot put (44'05.25").

Freshman Joe Noonan won the pole vault for the third consecutive time with a mark of 16'0.75".

Sophomore hurdler Kris Gehrke won the 400-meter hurdles (54.06 seconds).

The Panthers won the men's 3,200-meter relay in 7:39.78 with a team of freshman distance runner Justin Helpingstine, junior distance runner David Holm, sophomore distance runner Wes Sheldon, and senior distance runner Chris Wesson.

Sheldon ran an important leg for the Panthers. Sheldon was Eastern's third leg, and he put on a burst of speed to close a gap as soon as he got the baton to put the Panthers in first, a lead they would never lose.

The Panthers' next meet will be the Western Illinois Lee Calhoun Classic next weekend in Macomb.

Dan Cusack can be reached at 581-7944 or at

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