Former Ute Amanda Mergaert has the fourth-fastest American time in the 1500 meters
April 16, 2014
SALT LAKE CITY- Over the past few years, the Utah track and field team has established itself as a premiere NCAA program with many athletes excelling at the highest levels.
On the international scene, junior Aoife Hickey is currently the top-ranked athlete in Ireland for the hammer throw. Hickey burst into the national spotlight at a young age, representing her native country at the European Junior Championships in high school where she was a two-time junior national champion.
This season, Hickey has placed first or second in every meet she has competed in. Most recently, Hickey captured first in the hammer throw at the Utah Spring Classic with a season-best throw of 198 feet. Ilse Kaaja is another highly-ranked field athlete for the Utes, ranking as the third best hammer thrower in Finland. The freshman recorded a season-best throw of 189 feet, 10 inches at the Arizona State Invitational and she has placed in the top 10 in three meets this season.
In high school, Kaaja competed with Team Finland at the European Athletics U23 Championships where she recorded the best throw of her career, 199 feet, 11 inches.
The Utes also have two runners that rank among the best in the United States. Senior Rosalie Waller is currently ranked No. 11 in the U.S. after recording a time of 2:05.60 at the Arizona State Invitational in the 800 meters. Alexandria Eisenbeiss is just a shade behind her with a top time of 2:05.97.
The Utes have a history of cultivating good distance athletes. Former standout Amanda Mergaert, ranks fourth in the United States in the 1500-meter with a time of 4:16.16 and currently runs professionally for Oiselle.
This year, the Utes have been led by juniors Susannah Hurst and Rebekah Winterton. Hurst is ranked 22nd in the U.S. in the 10k after posting a time of 33:55.98 at the Stanford Invitational and Winterton ranks 26th in the country with a time of 16:08.24.
The tradition of outstanding student-athletes seems to be in good hands next season with three incoming freshman making big strides during their senior years.
Michelle Norman of Vista Murrieta, California has the No. 6 wind-legal long jump (19-2.25) and No. 8 wind-legal triple jump (39-10) of any high-school athlete in the United States. Sarah Feeny of Ogden ranks among the top 25 in the 3200 with a time of 10:31.17 and Dakota Grossman of Haiku, Hawaii is in the top 10 of the 1500m.