The Minnesota Morris track and field program closed out the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) Indoor Track and Field Championships with the Cougars winning six event titles, three Friday, Feb. 22 and three more Saturday, Feb. 23, in Duluth. As a team, both the men's and women's teams finished third with 106 and 137 points, respectively.
"Finishing day one with three first place finishes, a meet record, a school record, and six other UMM top-10 performances really shows that our men and women were ready to compete this weekend," UMM head coach Jessica Devine said. "We competed for a greater purpose than places, ranks, and (personal records) this weekend and I couldn't be more proud of where that mindset landed us at the end of the weekend.”
On Friday, the Cougars swept the 400-meter dash for the second straight year as Emily Ciesynski and Justin Pearson defended their 2018 titles. In the women's race, Ciesynski clocked in at 59.12, which topped her own school record, and Pearson finished the men's race with a time of 51.12.
Ryan Anderson brought home gold in the men's mile with his time of 4:32.42.
On Saturday, sophomore Jessica Bliese captured a gold medal in the women's shot put with her distance of 39-10.75, which is the No. 3 mark in school history.
Pearson won two more events as he won the men's 60-meter dash and the men's 200-meter dash. In the 60-meter dash, he defended his title from last year as he crossed the finish line in 7.03 and then he ran a school record and meet record time of 22.62 in the men's 200-meter dash.
"This was our best meet by far this season in terms of the results we saw,” Devine said. “Our women's throws were purely dominant, advancing all five to finals and scoring four places in both the shot put and weight throw. We won four of eight open running events on the men's side. We had two meet records and two school records. We'll also chalk up a handful of all-conference honors. We couldn't have expected a better weekend."
Sophomore Alex Boyd took third in the men's weight throw with his personal-best toss of 49-2.25. Boyd's mark Friday moved him from No. 4 in school history to No. 2.
In the men's shot put, Trent Merkins and Boyd took second and third, respectively. Merkins recorded a mark of 44-0.50, while Boyd posted a distance of 43-7.75, which ranks seventh all-time at Morris.
In the women's weight throw, the Cougars picked up 16 points. For Minnesota Morris in the women's weight throw, sophomore Jessica Bliese led the way with her third-place finish with her distance of 46-10.25, which ranks seventh all-time in school history. In addition to Bliese, Sierra Paske placed fourth (42-6.75), Kari Didier took fifth (42-5.25), and Jenica Moes rounded out the top-eight (39-5.75).
Sophomore Sierra Walker recorded a third-place finish in the women's high jump as she cleared a height of 4-8.25.
Freshman Jenna Benson captured a third-place finish in the women's long jump with her distance of 15-7.
In the distance medley relay, the Minnesota Morris women finished second and the Cougar men took third. Paige Stearns, Ladwig, Alexa Yeager and Novak ran the No. 3 time in school history (13:29.61) in the women's race, while Edmund Cease, Andrew Stanek, Anderson and Christian Thielke combined for the No. 9 time in school history (11:18.44) for the Cougar men.
A pair of Cougars finished in the top-three in the women's 60-meter hurdles, as Brooke Hogan and Emily Ciesynski finished second and third, respectively. Hogan, a junior, ran 9.48, which is the No. 2 time in school history, while Ciesynski, a senior, ran 9.67.
Ciesynski also tallied the No. 5 time in program history (26.98) in the women's 200-meter dash as she finished second overall.
In the women's 60-meter dash, Jenna Benson ran to a second-place finish with her time of 8.29. Along with Benson, Ciesynski placed fourth with a time of 8.37.
Ryan Anderson brought home a silver medal in the men's 800-meter run with the No. 7 time in program history (2:00.44).
Katherine Novak recorded a second-place finish in the women's 3,000-meter run with her time of 10:55.98.
The women's 4x400-meter relay of Ciesynski, Kimberly Olurankinse, Hogan and Novak ran to a time of 4:14.43 to finish third overall. Their time Saturday ranks third all-time in school history.
The men's 4x400-meter relay of Pearson, Stanek, Brennen Meyer and Anderson combined for a time of 3:41.53 to place fifth.