CLAREMONT — The Occidental track and field teams opened their SCIAC seasons in impressive fashion on Saturday, picking up 15 top-three finishes in 38 total events, tallying numerous personal bests and notching a couple all-time performances along the way.
As a team, both the men and the women lost to Cal Lutheran and La Verne at the Multi-Dual meet at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
Rachael Hinkel topped the list of standout competitors on the women's squad, dominating the field on the way to a first-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles. Hinkel finished the race in 15.59, just two-tenths of a second off her personal best, giving her the best time in the conference after the first week of SCIAC competition.
Onyekachi Nwabueze claimed third-place finishes in both the 100- and 200-meter races, completing one of the most memorable days in recent memory for a Tiger sprinter, according to her coaches. Her 100-meter time of 12.66 moves Nwabueze to number 10 on the Occidental all-time list.
"I'm not sure of the last time that someone ran that fast," Sprints coach Tyler Yamaguchi said. "It's been a number of years, close to a decade."
Moving her name up two spots on the top-10 list, Kimberly Orpinela unleashed a hammer throw of 129' 6", a near six-foot improvement on her personal best. This mark now puts her at number six on the all-time list and also lifted her to third-place in a talented field of athletes.
"That's absolutely remarkable," Yamaguchi said. "She has kind of been around there this season and just hit a big one today."
Marnie Kinnaird and Melina Devoney led the way for the distance group, finishing ninth and 10threspectively in the 1500-meter. Kinnaird's time of 5:00.31 was just over four seconds off of her personal best, while Devoney's 5:01.83, her first collegiate 1500-meter time, drew praise from the coaching staff.
Smith ran a 3:55.59 in the 1500-meter, picking up the win and lowering his career-best time by over a second. He came back later in the day to run a 2:00.09 in the 800-meter, completing one of the most grueling doubles in the sport.
"That's not the race that he's really been training for or focusing on," Yamaguchi said. "So the fact that he was able to PR by over a second in the 1500 was outstanding."
Dalton claimed a second-place finish in the 100-meter, blazing to an 11.06. Although the time was not wind legal — the race incurred a 2.1 m/s tail wind — it was Dalton's first career mark under 11.10.
Jeh Johnson, Alex Ringold and Gregory Capra all notched lifetime bests in the 200-meter. Johnson finished his first collegiate 200-meter race in sixth-place with a time of 22.66, while Ringold and Capra lowered their personal records to 23.72 and 24.04 respectively.
Ryan Kammerman rounded out the big performances on the track, lowering his 5000-meter personal best by over seven seconds to 16:13.16.
Maybe the most impressive statistic on the day came from the men's throws squad, which had a least one personal best in all four of the throwing events.
Jacob Radeski led the charge with a massive improvement in the discus, launching a throw of 127' 8". This mark was an over 15-foot jump from his previous personal best.
"He's been working on some things in practice and I think he finally put it all together," Yamaguchi said. "That's kind of what happens when you work on your technique and things start to click."
James Partee finished second in the shot put with a throw of 44' 9.5" on his final attempt. This mark was over three feet further than his career best.
The Tigers are back in action on Mar. 14 for the Oxy Distance Carnival and Sprints Festival.