Leading the Utah charge in Los Angeles were its distance runners, Rebekah Winterton and Susannah Hurst. Winterton took first in the 500-meter run with a time of 16:40.17, a personal record on an outdoor track. Hurst finished just behind Winterton in second with a time of 16:45.72.
“It was good,” Winterton said. “We mostly just did the race to prepare for the 10K coming up in two weeks. We went out just exactly like the paces that we were trying to hit. There was some wind on one of the stretches, so it was kind of tough to push through that, and I led all but a couple laps where a girl took the lead, which was nice because she took the wind.”
Though she won, Winterton had high praise for Hurst.
“She definitely did very well in that last portion of the race,” Winterton said. “She’s been working on her finishes. She was in third for a while and then ended up passing a girl.”
Head coach Kyle Kepler acknowledged that the Utes used the track portion of the invitational as a tune-up for the future, but he was satisfied nonetheless.
“I think that [Winterton] and [Hurst] could have ran faster, but we were more focusing on just winning the race and getting prepared for the 10-kilometer race in a couple of weeks,” he said in a press release after Friday’s action. “Overall, I felt like we had a productive day.”
The track wasn’t the only place where Utah had success on day one of the event. In the hammer throw, Aoife Hickey turned in a mark of 193 feet, 10 inches, which was good enough for second overall. Coming in second for the Utes and seventh overall was freshman Ilse Kaaja, who had a throw of 180 feet, 8 inches.
As for day two, Utah had success in the 800-meter run, as Ali Eisenbeiss, Andrea Chavez and Kendahl Melvin all finished in the top 10. Eisenbeiss finished second and clocked a new personal record with a time of 2:08.19.
Personal records were the theme of the day for the Utes, as Nikkie Rudder and Kassie Nagel each posted new bests in the shot put with throws of 48 feet, 11 inches and 44 feet, 7.50 inches respectively. On the track, Rhianna Williams posted a personal best in the 400-meter run, Rosalie Waller did in the 400-meter hurdles, as did Hurst in the 1500-meter run.
“Being the first meet of the outdoor season, we have a few things we need to build on and improve — however, I thought everyone came out and worked really hard to get the season off to a good start,” Kepler said.
Up next for Utah are the Arizona State Invitational and Stanford Invitational. The Utes will then host the third annual Utah Spring Classic. This will be Winterton’s first time competing for the Utes at home, as the Classic got cancelled her first year of action, and then she ran unattached the second time around.
“Hopefully it won’t snow this year,” she said.