Track and field teams open their 2021 season

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Photo Courtesy of GoldenGrizzlies.com

Briana Walker competes in a past meet. The track and field teams kicked off their season at the SVSU classic at Saginaw Valley State University.

Lauren Reid, Sports Editor

Oakland University track and field opened their 2021 indoor season on Friday, Jan. 15 at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) after 320 days off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Maddie Leigh, Megan Nichols, Connor Goetz and Paige Sanders recorded first place finishes at the SVSU classic — with Leigh winning the mile, Nichols and Goetz placing first in the 5000m run and Sanders placing first in the long jump.

“After going through everything we’ve gone through, [things] have been put into perspective [this year],” Head Coach Katrina Brumfield said. “It’s awesome to be doing this, it’s awesome to be competing. [For sure] we want to win, [for sure] we want to hit those personal bests and bring home a conference title — but it’s also the enjoyment of being able to train, be around teammates and friends and have the opportunity to compete.”

The team also finished strong at the Mastodon opener on Saturday, Jan. 23, where they tallied 51 top-five finishes among both men’s and women’s teams. 

Alex Hugh-Plott, Leigh and Lauren Christian earned Nike® Horizon League player of the week after the Mastodon opener. Hugh-Plott placed first in the high jump, Leigh finished first in the 800m and Christian won the shot put event.

“There’s a lot of depth in a lot of areas,” Brumfield said. “There’s a lot of athletes that have the potential to stay in the top of the conference and be big contributors.”

Amid COVID-19, Brumfield said it’s a challenging time, but the team is doing the best they can.

“[We’re] trying to take each day and embrace it,” Brumfield said. “You never know when there could be a pause in activities, so it’s definitely a challenge. The one thing that’s really holding us together is the fact that we’re sticking together and encouraging each other through it all.”

Brumfield mentioned she is really looking forward to the athletes “achieving everything they want to achieve this year despite all the setbacks.”

“It’d be nice to see Jimmie Williams defend his title, it’d be nice to see the freshman and transfers get that first championship experience,” Brumfield said. “I’m just looking forward to so much, and the core of it all is seeing the athletes compete and enjoy competing at the best of their ability.”

Track and field may be going to the Hillsdale Wide Track Classic (Feb. 5-6), but some of the team is currently on COVID-19 protocol, according to Brumfield.

“It’s not [certain] that we’ll be competing [this] weekend, but the following weekend is at Purdue Fort Wayne in Indiana — which would be our next competition for sure,” Brumfield said. 

As of now, OU track and field is slated to finish up their season at the 2021 Horizon League Championships — held Feb. 26 to March 1 at Purdue Fort Wayne.

For more track and field news, visit their news tab on the OU Athletics website