Webster University’s women’s and men’s track and field teams will open their outdoor season at the Augustana Invitational on March 17 in Rock Island, Ill. Both teams will have a challenging outdoor season, especially when they go up against conference rival Greenville College.
Webster men’s and women’s track coach Dusty Lopez enters his fourth and final season as coach before he and his family move to Ann Arbor, Mich. He wants everyone from both teams to step up this season and compete in multiple events.
“We need an impact from everybody; we are going to ask them to do multiple events at every meet,” Lopez said. “Everyone needs to step up across the board.”
It’s going to be a challenging season for the Gorloks with Greenville and Principia College leading the way as powerful teams with a lot of depth. Both St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference schools are strong on the men’s and women’s sides. They will be tough to beat because they have more than three athletes competing in each event.
“Greenville right now is the class of the conference for both men and women,” Lopez said. “They have numbers to really compete in almost every event from the pole vault to the hammer throw and triple jump.
“A bunch of events that we don’t cover, they have three or four kids participating in it and that gives them a number advantage. Not to mention, they also have very good athletes as well. Principia (is) not as strong in numbers, but they definitely have more numbers than us and very high-caliber athletes in top events.”
For the Webster men’s team, lone senior Tony Morales and juniors Aaron Oberneufemann, Daniel Henkey and David Koppelmann will lead the Gorloks. Oberneufemann said he is ready for his team to begin the outdoor season.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing us perform as a team and the progress that we’ve gained,” Oberneufemann said. “I’m also looking forward to seeing some records change, too.”
Lopez is looking for strong seasons out of freshmen Jason Hickson and Zachary Zurfluh-Cunningham.
“Hickson has done great work to get ready for his first outdoor season — he’ll be a key guy for us,” Lopez said. “Zach has had a lot of experience coming out of high school, so he’ll be ready for us.”
Hickson said he is ready and excited to start his first outdoor season with the Gorloks. He has set some specific goals he would like to accomplish this season.
“This spring, I would like to run 16 minutes in the 5K and to run 34 minutes, 50 seconds for the 10K,” Hickson said. “I feel that I am able to accomplish these goals if I stick my mind to it.”
The women’s team is led by seniors Amanda Arcangel, Tori Fenemor, Tyeila Gant and Gretchen Rieger. Lopez has high hopes for freshmen Jenny Howard and Kristen McDowell. Howard is a sprinter in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, and McDowell is a high jumper.
“For the season, I really hope to set new personal records and break the school records in the 100- and 200-meter dashes,” Howard said. “My biggest goal is to hit the national qualifying mark in the 100-meter dash (12.33 seconds) and eventually beat it, because I ran the same time in high school.”
As the first female high-jumper in school history, McDowell would like to beat her personal records.
“This season, I would like to consistently jump 5-foot-1 in high jump and to have a personal best at 5’4” or 5’5”,” McDowell said. “I think the team in general is going to do great this year, I can’t wait to finally get outside to jump.”
Greenville men’s and women’s track coach Brian Patton said opposing schools would consider Greenville the conference favorite for both the men and the women.
“For the men’s side, we would probably be the favorite because the depth in all of the different field events — we would be pretty strong to compare to other conference schools,” Patton said. “I would think Principia would probably be the second-best team in the conference.
“For the ladies, our depth in the field events — we would be pretty strong in the field events and the other conference schools have not been traditionally very strong in the field events,” Patton said. “We do pretty well in the running events and when we hit the field, it’s tough for people to hang with us at this time.”
Patton believes for both the men and women that Principia is the biggest competition for his team.
“I’d say Principia only because they maybe represent in more events,” Patton said. “They have an indoor facility, so they can be better prepared throughout the year, and they have more access to field stuff than other SLIAC schools.”