XC at Whitworth Invitational.

Freshman Paxton Depoe ran a personal best in the 1,500-meter and finished fourth in the event last Friday.

The Gonzaga women’s track team came away with 11 personal best marks in their second meet of the season this past Friday, March 26, at the 2021 Whitworth Invitational, including top program marks as well.

Senior Ally Legard kicked things off with a third-place finish and a personal best run of 4:34.56 in the 1,500-meter, five seconds faster from last week’s performance at the Whitworth Essential Invite. Her time ranks fifth in program history.

“I tried to hang on with a pace I was comfortable with this time around,” Legard said. “I always look forward to the last 500-meters of a 1,500, so I took it as fast I could for that last portion of the race.”

Since Legard had missed competing last spring due to COVID-19, she has been looking forward to the opportunity to get back on the track, especially when it’s running her fastest time ever at Whitworth since it’s the Bulldogs home-away-from-home. 

“It’s always exciting to get a PR at Whitworth,” Legard said. “I think it’s good start for my senior season and eventually I would like to get under 4:30 and have a chance to compete at regionals.”

Four other Bulldogs finished in the top 10 of the 1,500-meter and ran personal best marks as well including freshmen Paxton Depoe (4:37.18, fourth) and Brittney Hansen (4:40.82, seventh), junior Lauren Haas (4:41.28, eighth), and sophomore Liz Hogan (4:42.69, 10th).

Other personal best times outside the 10 ten for GU were from freshmen Makenna Edwards and Elizabeth Brand running 4:43.27 and 5:02.76 to place 11th and 17th, and junior Mary Cate Babcock running 5:06.94 to place 18th.

Freshman Alyssa Bienfang was the highest placing individual for the Bulldogs as she was second in the 800-meter running a personal best time of 2:19.24. Legard was fourth running 2:19.57. Depoe and Hansen were seventh and eighth running 2:21.15 and 2:21.67 and senior Claire Gillett was 10th running 2:23.7.

In the sprints, junior Morgan Greene, who placed third last week in the 800-meter at the Whitworth Essential, ran the third fastest 400-meter mark in program history running a personal best time of 1:00.07 placing fifth. Senior Erin Ripple placed eighth running a personal best 1:02.88.

“It’s been a while since I got on the line and did an open 400, but overall I felt it was good day,” Greene said.

With the 800-meter being her predominant racing event, Greene felt last week’s performance needed a tune up with her speed and felt running the 400 would benefit her in training.

“I had a strong 700-meters in the 800, but I wanted to work on that finishing speed,” Greene said. “Transitioning into this week, we decided to drop down to do a 400 and a 200 to work on improving my speed. The goal is to hit 2:15 by the end of the season and get the school record.”

Freshman Grace Dalton placed ninth in the 200-meter running a personal best time of 26.97, the third fastest mark in program history. Greene placed 11th running 27.13.

Freshman Emilee Groth made her debut in the 400-meter hurdles with a fifth place run of 1:06.63. With no marks of any 400-meter hurdlers competing within the program on GU’s outdoor record list, Groth stands as the program record holder in the event.

Finishing the night was GU’s B team in 1,600-meter relay as they took first in a program best time of 4:08.54. Members on the team included Groth, Bienfang, Ripple and Greene.

The women’s team heads to Eugene, Oregon for the Northwest Distance Jamboree to compete in their next meet on Saturday, April 3, at Lane Community College. Events set to start at 3:30 p.m.

Keenan Gray is a contributor. Follow him on Twitter: @kgray5555.

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