Sparks is Second All-Time at Willamette with 1:02.16 in 400-meter Hurdles

Jewell Sparks (Jr., San Francisco, CA/Lick Wilmerding HS)
Jewell Sparks (Jr., San Francisco, CA/Lick Wilmerding HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Jewell Sparks (Jr., San Francisco, CA/Lick Wilmerding HS) lowered her personal record time to 1:02.16 in the women's 400-meter hurdles at the Portland Twilight on Saturday, May 13. She lowered her personal record by 0.57 from 1:02.73, which she registered at the 2017 NWC Championships on April 22. Sparks took second place in the event behind Sarah King from George Fox University, who earned first place in 1:00.93.

In the process, Sparks moved up from third into second place on Willamette's all-time list. She trails only WU record holder Shannon McGrane, who was timed at 1:00.95 during the 2005 season.

Sparks also moved into a tie for 13th on the NCAA Division III performance list in the 400-meter hurdles. Including her new top time, eight of the 25 fastest times in Division III this season have been recorded in the past three days (May 11-13).

After the regular season ends with last chance meets on Thursday, May 18, the top 20 athletes in each men's event and the top 22 athletes in each women's event will qualify for the 2017 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Geneva, Ohio. Official selections will be announced on Saturday, May 20 with the championships set for May 25-27.

The Portland Twilight was hosted by University of Portland, but was held at Lewis & Clark College and George Fox University. All of the running events were held at L&C on Saturday.

Sparks was one of several Willamette athletes who competed in Portland.

Patrick Loftus (Jr., Santa Rosa, CA/Sonoma Academy) attained a time of 9:22.50 for the Bearcats in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase, as he finished less than two seconds from his season best of 9:20.71, recorded at the OSU High Performance Meet on April 28. Loftus is currently tied for 31st on the NCAA Division III performance list.

In the women's 100-meter dash, Teneah Rushen (Jr., Portland, OR/Franklin HS) was timed at 12.80 seconds. She placed sixth out of nine competitors in the event, which included six runners from the University of Portland and two athletes from running clubs.

Hannah Swanson (Jr., Seattle, WA/Roosevelt HS) earned a time of 4:39.01 in the women's 1,500-meter run. She was 1.68 seconds from her season best of 4:37.33 at the OSU High Performance Meet. She is 40th on the NCAA performance list. Also in the women's 1,500 on Saturday, Olivia Mancl (Sr., Seattle, WA/Roosevelt HS) registered a time of 4:47.74.

Robbie Melhorn (So., Bangkok,Thailand/International School Bangkok) and Jack Kobylka (Jr., Napa, CA/Vintage HS) participated in the men's 1,500-meter run. Melhorn crossed the finish line with a personal record of 4:06.70, while Kobylka finished in 4:09.72.

Melhorn reduced his previous best time by just over two seconds from 4:08.73 at the 2017 Willamette Invitational.

Two Bearcats competed in the men's 5,000-meter run.

Keith Carlson (So., Bainbridge Island, WA//Bainbridge HS) ran the race in 15:27.28, as he set a personal record by about 12 seconds. His top time prior to Saturday was 15:39.67 at the 2016 Willamette Invitational.

Michael Montague (Fr., San Diego, CA/Canyon Crest Academy) was timed at 15:33.48 for the fastest time of his freshman season as he ran in a collegiate 5,000 for the third time. His previous best was 15:49.41 during the Willamette Opener.

Willamette athletes will be participating in the Gilbert Invitational at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, on Wednesday, May 17 and Thursday, May 18. Action will begin at 11:45 a.m. CDT/9:45 a.m. PDT on Wednesday and at 1 p.m. CDT/11 a.m. PDT on Thursday.