Sparks Wins 400 Hurdles, Swanson is 2nd in 1,500 at John Knight Twilight

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

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

MONMOUTH, Ore. -- Willamette University sprinter and hurdler Jewell Sparks (Sr., San Francisco, CA/Lick Wilmerding HS) won the women's 400-meter hurdles, and Hannah Swanson (Sr., Seattle, WA/Roosevelt HS) took second place for the Bearcats in the women's 1,500-meter run, during the John Knight Twilight on Friday, April 6 at Western Oregon University. Sparks also helped Willamette finish second in the women's 4 x 100-meter relay, while the Bearcats grabbed third place in the men's 4 x 100-meter relay.

Sparks took first place in the 400-meter hurdles by a narrow margin in a close finish with Sara Madden of Western Oregon. Sparks registered a winning time of 1:03.46 to edge out Madden, who placed second in 1:03.62. It was Sparks' fastest time of the season and moved her up two spots into seventh place on the 2018 NCAA Division III performance list.

In the 1,500-meter run, Swanson and Western Oregon's Kennedy Rufener battled each other over the final 400 meters. Rufener held the lead entering the last 100 meters, but Swanson stayed close. Rufener won the race in 4:38.79. Swanson was second in 4:39.67, just 0.88 out of the lead.

Swanson has recorded times between 4:37.65 and 4:40.94 in each of her last four 1,500-meter races. Her top time of 4:37.65 ranks 10th in NCAA Division III this season.

Sparks ran the third leg on Willamette's 4 x 100-meter relay, as the Bearcats took second place in 50.22 seconds. Also running for Willamette on the relay team were Sonja Cox-Raman (Fr., Seattle, WA/Ballard HS), Bridgette Peirce (Sr., Reno, NV/Earl Wooster HS) and Teneah Rushen (Sr., Portland, OR/Franklin HS). Corban University won the 4 x 100 relay in 48.89 seconds. Western Oregon was third in 50.70 seconds.

In the men's 4 x 100-meter relay, the Bearcats were third with a time of 43.21 seconds. Willamette's relay team included D'Angelo Guiton (Sr., Alameda, CA/Bishop O'Dowd HS), Orion Ewell (Jr., Los Angeles, CA/Cathedral HS), Jack Wellman (Sr., Alameda, CA/Alameda HS) and Connor Giannini (So., Veradale, WA/Gonzaga Prep). The four Bearcats registered a time that was just 0.18 away from their career-best of 43.03 seconds at last year's Northwest Conference Championships.

On Friday, Northwest Christian University won the men's 4 x 100-meter relay in 42.34 seconds. Western Oregon was second at 42.84. Willamette finished just in front of Mount Hood Community College, which placed fourth in 43.31 seconds.

Other Top Results for the Bearcat Women's Team

Isabel Duxbury (Fr., Seattle, WA/University Prep) was fourth in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:24.22. The freshman improved on her previous top time of the season which was 2:24.64 at the Willamette Invitational.

Peirce set a personal record in the 400-meter dash at 1:00.40. She placed eighth in the event. Her previous top time was 1:01.22 earlier this season on March 10 at the Chico State Invitational. On Friday, Peirce also registered a time in the 200-meter dash that was near her personal record. She was timed at 27.17 seconds as she took seventh place, missing her career-best by just 0.03 from her time of 27.14 at Chico State.

Isabel Solano (So./Fr., Newport, OR/Newport HS) dropped about 2 1/2 seconds from her personal record in the 400-meter hurdles. She was seventh in 1:08.97, easily improving on her previous best of 1:11.45. Solano also improved in the pole vault to 9' 8", up from her previous top mark of 9' 2.5".

In the high jump, Brittany Broughton (So., Fort Worth, TX/Boswell HS) cleared the 5-foot mark for the first time in competition for the Bearcats. She was successful at 5' 1", improving on her top mark prior to Friday's meet of 4' 10.5" at his year's Willamette Opener.

Hope Duenas (So., Covina, CA/Covina HS) was 11th in the hammer throw at 134' 5". Jeidah DeZurney (Fr., Brownsville, OR/Lebanon HS) earned her top mark of the season while placing 12th in the hammer at 121' 1".

Other Top Results for the Willamette Men's Team

Giannini led four Bearcats with very close times in the 100-meter dash. Giannini was timed at 11.56 seconds, which was matched by Guiton in the same heat. Ewell achieved a time of 11.59 seconds, and Wellman earned a personal record in 11.64 seconds. Wellman's previous best time was 11.74 at this year's Willamette Opener.

In the 200-meter dash, Giannini was seventh in 22.86 seconds. Wellman registered a time of 23.07 seconds, just missing his personal record of 22.95.

Josh Martin (So., Medford, OR/St. Mary's School) was seventh in the hammer throw at 140' 8". Saige Swan (So., Crescent City, CA/Del Norte HS) continued to improve in the event, earning a top distance of 132' 11" for eight place, breaking his personal record of 129' 5.75", set at the San Francisco State Distance Carnival a week ago.

Up Next for the Bearcats

Willamette athletes will compete at the Jenn Boyman Memorial Invitational at Linfield College on Saturday, April 7. Action is set to get underway at Maxwell Field in McMinnville, Oregon, at 10 a.m. (PST).