[Gresham, Oregon] The cumulation of the women’s 2023 track season at the NWAC conference championships came down to one defining event, the last event of the meet the 4 x 400m relay. But it was the team effort throughout the two days of the championships that even made the last event all the more important.
The Sasquatch women fought tooth and nail in every single event to score every last point available. Three points in the women’s triple jump, a point in the high jump, another point in the hammer throw, five points in the 400 hurdles, six point in the javelin, and then twelve points in the pole vault.
The result was the closest finish for the final two spots on the podium in the team standings in conference history a mere two points separating second, third and fourth place. After a disappointing sixth place team finish in 2022 this group would not be denied finishing in the top two in the 2023 version. Spokane edged out Clark and Southwestern Oregon 113 to 111 and 111. Lane won the title with 227 points.
Led by Lizbeth Soto, the freshman star from Caldwell, Idaho scored points in all five of the events she was entered in. Beginning on Monday afternoon Soto competed in a total of six races and one field event. Prelims in the 200m and 400m were sandwiched around the long jump competition in which Soto was ranked number one coming into the meet. When the dust settled Soto came out on top with a victory by one-half inch with a jump of 16’.10.50” scoring her first ten team points.
On Tuesday Soto competed in the finals of the 4 x 100 relay leading the team of Miranda Irwin, Madisen Douglas and Sydney Kinch to a fifth-place finish in a season best time of 50. 36. Up next were the finals in the 400m where Soto ran her fastest time of the season of 59.32 good for second and another eight team points.
Less than an hour later the finals of the 200 resulted in a fourth-place finish in 26.37 and another five points. In the last and pivotal team event Soto teamed with Miranda Irwin, Camille Ussher and Madisen Douglas to run the fastest 4 x 400 relay of the season in 4:04.59 five seconds faster than their entry time. The team second place finish in this event also secured the second-place team finish. Soto contributed 26 team points the third highest total in the meet overall.
The 2022 defending conference champion in the 3k steeplechase (13:14.67) Charlotte Falstad was also determined to make a major contribution to the team effort in 2023. What an effort is was on her part.
Leading the steeplechase from the gun, Falstad had some difficulty with one of the water barriers resulting in a spectacular fall, but was able to recover quickly and return to the front of the pack. In the final three laps she pulled away to repeat as the conference champion running 12: 19.81 good for the first ten points of the meet for the team and the fifteenth fastest time in school history and fifty-five seconds faster than 2022.
Not done Charlotte came back on day two to earn her second All-American award of the championships by finishing in third place in the 5k race running one of her fastest time of the year finishing in 19:06.45 good for another 6 points contributing 16 points all together for the team.
Team Captain Miranda Irwin also was a major factor in the team scoring race. On May 1-2 Irwin competed in the conference heptathlon championship where she scored 8 team points with her second-place finish. Irwin has personal bests in all seven heptathlon events along with an 800 point improvement in her final score.
A consummate team leader, nursing a sore ankle from a spill in the last regular season meet Irwin wasn’t to be deterred in her efforts. Irwin just missed the 100m hurdle final, but came back in her specialty the 400m hurdles to add a fourth-place finish and another five points running 1:06.44 a full two second faster than her 2022 championship effort.
Irwin also ran critical leg on the 4 x 400 and 4 x 100 relays which finished in second and fifth place adding another three points to her 15-point team effort.
A team high twelve NWAC All-American awards were earned over the two days by the following:
Lizbeth Soto 400m 59.32 Second Place
Miranda Irwin Heptahtlon 3887 Second Place
4 x 400 Relay Second Place-Miranda Irwin, Camille Ussher, Madisen Douglas, Lizbeth Soto 4:04.59
Sydney Kinch Pole Vault 11’5.75” Third Place
Madeline Gebers Javelin 126’2” Third Place
Charlotte Falstad 5k 19:06.45 Third Place
Camille Ushher 800 m 2:22.51 Third Place
Sophia Ferraro 1500m 5:01.20 Third Place
Charlotte Falstad 3k Steeplechase 12:19.81
Lizbeth Soto Long Jump 16’10.50”
#Women's Track and Field