Eagle Rock, Calif. – On a rainy night in less than ideal conditions, the Lion men and women kicked off their regular season on Saturday night under the lights of Bill Henry Olympic Track on the campus of Occidental College in the Occidental Spring Break Distance Carnival. Twenty-two Lions competed in the 5,000 meters while four others took the track to run the 1500 meters.
The evening started with the women’s 1500 meters where redshirt sophomore Ann Kelly ran less than a half a second from her personal best covering the distance in 4:39.38. Her performance was good enough for fourth place overall and the second collegian.
Junior Branden Estrada was the overall winner of the men’s 1500m running 3:57.17. Estrada came from fourth in the last 200 meters to overtake three runners in the stretch run to capture the victory.
In the women’s 5000 meters, senior Maddi Vorgitch broke the 17-minute barrier covering the distance in 16:57.49. Vorgitch ran a career best by more than 11 seconds. Her result was good enough for 12th place of over 170 runners in the 5000 meters. She was the sixth collegian in the race.
Sophomore Hannah Wohlenberg and junior Kyla Danforth were 21st and 22nd respectively in the 5000 meters. Wohlenberg covered the 5000 meters in 17:24.76 and was nine seconds faster than this time last year. Danforth ran 17:28.03, a little over eight seconds from a personal best.
Other notable performances included Giselle Masedo who ran 18:18.88, just eight seconds shy of a personal best. Freshman Rosie Cruz and Gaby Guerrero made their debut in the 5000 meters running 18:36.83 and 18:58.54 respectively. Finally, alum Grace Graham-Zamudio finished fourth overall and ran 16:44.67. Graham-Zamudio was a three-time NCAA Division I Preliminary Round qualifier in two years as a Lion.
Senior Jack Polerecky repeated as the Occidental Spring Break Distance Carnival 5000 meter champion in dramatic fashion, coming from over 15 meters behind with a lap remaining to pass three of his competitors for the win. Polerecky won last year in 14:21.26 and bettered his mark by nearly six seconds this year running 14:15.90. For Polerecky, he also improved on his personal best by two seconds but remains as the fourth fastest Lion in LMU history.
Redshirt senior Patrick Gibson was the second Lion to cross the line in a time of 14:40.68. Gibson was 13th overall and the seventh collegian in the race. Gibson is the ninth-fastest Lion to run the 5000 meters.
Junior Brian Joerger won section two of the men’s 5000 meters with a 10-second career best crossing the finish line in 14:49.59. Joerger was 19th overall of over 225 competitors and moves to 14th on the LMU all-time list.
Freshman Joseph Garcia, in his 5000-meter debut, broke the 15-minute barrier running 14:58.05. Garcia has the eighth fastest Freshman time in LMU history and the fourth fastest 5000 meter debut in LMU history. Junior Koby Pederson ran 15:00.99 just seven seconds shy of his personal best. Pederson was the fifth Lion to run 15 minutes or faster in the event at the Distance Carnival while all of last season six men accomplished the feat.
The Lions will toe the line again next Saturday at the UC Irvine Spring Break Classic.
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