STORM LAKE – Southwestern sophomore Chase Oates punched his ticket to the NJCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships on Saturday with a new school record performance in the men’s 1,000 meters at the Dennis Young Alumni Classic, hosted by Buena Vista University.

Oates is the first Spartan national qualifier of the 2024 season. The Columbia Heights (Minn.) product competed in the 1,000 meters at last year’s indoor national championships where he set a school record time of 2:34. Saturday, Oates ran an even race to set a new school record time of 2:32.55. Oates ran 400-meter splits of 59.4 and 62.8, coming through 800 meters in 2:02.2, before closing in a 30-second final 200-meter lap.

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With the conversion from a flat 200-meter track to banked 200-meter track, Oates’ time is 2:30.48, which ranks 10th nationally in the NJCAA.

“We owe a big assist to Buena Vista for making this happen, by adding the 1K to the meet schedule and having their top athlete go for their school record in the event,” said Scott Vicker, director of cross country/track & field. “We knew Chase was fit enough to hit the qualifying standard based on his recent workout results, but it helped having someone else in the race to push him. With how well Chase ran for the 1K distance, it should give him a confidence boost for the mile and later the 1,500 meters when we move to outdoor. But this sets him up well for indoor nationals.”

Redshirt freshman Tyus Wills had another strong performance in the 60-meter dash. Wills secured the final spot in finals of the event with his prelimary time of 7.17 seconds, which was just shy of his PR from last week. In finals, Wills slipped coming out of the blocks and still posted a new PR time of 7.1 seconds to finish fourth. Freshman Jedd Weinkoetz also ran a PR in the 60-meter dash at 7.67 seconds before later running a new PR in the 200-meter dash at 25.52 seconds.

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Sophomore Jonathon Hackett broke the school record in the indoor pole vault with his vault of 2.9 meters. Hackett also won the men’s high jump competition with a best jump of 1.7 meters.

“It was good for Hackett to get some work in a few events he hadn’t contested yet this year, as he prepares for his first heptathlon of the season this coming week at Washburn,” Vicker said. “His pole vault practice has been limited, so for him to have a couple of solid attempts at his outdoor PR height of 3.05 meters was really encouraging. That is one event where if he can make a little improvement, could really make a big difference in his heptathlon score.”

For the Spartan women, freshman Abbi Richter had a huge day in the weight throw. Richter improved her PR in the event by nearly 2 full meters, finishing seventh with a best throw of 11.67 meters. Teammate Kasey Springer finished eighth with a throw of 10.84 meters.

Southwestern returns to action Friday and Saturday with a limited group traveling to the Washburn Open.


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