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ISU Track and Field

Men's Track and Field 4/28/2024 10:22:00 AM Bernard Neequaye, Idaho State Sports Information
Justin Prax
Men's Track and Field 4/28/2024 10:22:00 AM Bernard Neequaye, Idaho State Sports Information

Bengal Seniors Shine Bright in Final Home Meet

Pocatello, ID - The cold weather was not a deterrent for track and field athletes at the just-ended Bengals Invitational Meet which took place at Idaho State University's (ISU) Davis Field. It was an unfavorable situation for these athletes who gave everything in their respective events.

However, the mental toughness of these athletes was what could have been honored by the Bengals just before the commencement of the meet. In an emotional sendoff to some Track and Field athletes, 21 seniors of the Bengals team were honored and recognized by the university for their years of undying contributions to the school's athletics department.

Head coach Hillary Merkley was full of praise for the departing seniors whom she said were leaving behind 21 spots. She however added that these spots would need big shoes to fill in subsequent seasons.

Merkley noted that the outgoing student-athletes would be missed by the entire Bengals Track and Field team due to the strong relationships that have been built with ISU and the community over the years.

"I've been here for ten years, and some of these kids have been here for six of those years, and there's a lot of relationships that get built in that time," said coach Merkley. Some of these kids went through the pandemic with us, and some of them put their careers on pause for a bit. So, a lot of those kids have built such strong relationships with ISU and the community for a long time."
"Today was a bit more bitter than in the past because we've gotten to know them really deeply and personally, but it's awesome. I love today because we get to celebrate them and their accomplishments. Some of them have two or three degrees that they're leaving with that they worked hard for. I'm really proud of the seniors, really grateful for them, and they're going to be missed. Those are 21 spots that are leaving big shoes to fill,"

Despite the harsh weather condition, the track events produced some interesting results among the Bengals team. Khutsisa Rampete achieved a personal record of 10.57 seconds to win the men's 100m final. The South African sprinter had to dig deep to beat his season's best of 10.70 and a personal record of 10.64.
He continued with another good performance by running 21.45 seconds in the men's 200m final to emerge victorious. Meanwhile, Alex Conner recorded a personal record with 21.85 seconds in that same race.

The other men's track events threw out exciting performances as Braxton Hurst ran a personal record and season's best of 48.36 seconds in the 400m final to beat his previous 48.54 seconds. Zachary Cox earned 53.74 seconds to finish second in the men's 400m hurdles final.

In the men's 800m, Dallin Bird and Sunny Gunn improved on their times by achieving 1:52.71 and 1:53.01 respectively.
The Bengals managed a third place in the men's 4x400m relay event after achieving a time of 3:18.33 despite starting the race on a bright note.

The women's track team were equally up to the task in their final home meet of the campaign. Sprinter Kyndal Martin achieved a season's best time of 1:00.18 to win the women's 400m hurdles final. She was joined by Natalie Baker, Sabrina Northrup, and Jordan Dayley to ensure total dominance, as the Bengals secured the top four spots in the event.

Martin, a Eugene, Oregon native, noted for its rich history in track and field, also finished second on the women's 100m hurdles final with a time of 13.79 seconds.

As one of the seniors honored for a stellar career for in orange and black, Martin described her stay on ISU campus as a great experience especially as she looks forward to the Big Sky Championships in a couple of weeks.
"It was a little bit bittersweet, but it's been a good career and a great experience with everyone, so it was exciting too. It's really just about staying healthy and making sure that my body is ready to go," Martin recapped with fondness.
"Coming into (Big Sky) Conference championships, it doesn't matter where you're ranked or what your PR is, it's just about who shows up that day."

The Bengals clinched a second place finish in the women's 4x100m relay final clocked at 47.46 seconds. In the women's 3000m steeplechase, Madi Kenyon and Sulette Ferreyra Serna ran 11:21.76 and 11:41.94 respectively to occupy the first and second spots.

Mikaela Hill ran 11.99 seconds in the women's 100m final, Sage Wood finished 25.27 seconds in the women's 200m final, and Olivia Kendell finished the women's 5000m final with a time of 18:25.89.

Meanwhile, the Bengals' women's A and B teams finished second and third in the 4x400m relay with times of 3:50.47 and 4:07.23.

The field events did not also disappoint as there were a lot of takeaways. Ethan Garrett recorded a leap of 1.93 meters in the men's high jump while Ryan Spaeth finished with a mark of 16.41m in the men's shot put.
A very pleased Garrett described his final home meet as a Bengal as a means of cherishing memories and having fun. The high jumper said "At the end of the day, the last couple of meets are for cherishing the memories and having fun, so that's what I did".

In the men's discus throw, Axel Tirado-Sanchez dominated by finishing first with a mark of 56.18m.
The women's discus throw saw Zoie Kessinger with a 46.21m throw which earned her a personal record and a 10th place in Bengals' history.

After some well-deserved rest and recuperation, the Bengals will begin preparations for the Big Sky Conference Championships from May 8-11. Hosted by Montana State in Bozeman, the meet will feature talent from each of the Big Sky's ten teams.
The Bengals are among many of which who have put in the work over the course of the year to cement the Conference's status as one of the most loaded divisions in the western United States, providing all of the hype necessary to know that the 2024 season is sure to conclude with a b