Clayton Thompson and Molly Mangan led the way as the Navy men’s and women’s track and field teams swept the Patriot League Outdoor Championship meet at Army West Point April 30 and May 1.
Thompson won the 110- and 400-meter hurdles, setting a meet record in the latter event, and placed second in the long jump, third in the pole vault and ran the leadoff leg of the runner-up 400-meter relay team. The senior from Corpus Christi, Texas, singlehandedly scored 36 points, which was more than some other Patriot League teams.
“In my opinion, Clayton is the best athlete at the Naval Academy and what he did this past weekend was remarkable,” Navy coach Jamie Cook said.
Thompson was so busy competing in his various events he used a bicycle to travel back-and-forth between Shea Stadium and Gillis Field House to save precious time. He was deservedly named Patriot League Men’s Athlete of the Meet.
Senior Thomas Johnstone captured two individual events — the decathlon and pole vault — as Navy finished with 298 points. It marked the first time Johnstone had ever competed in the decathlon.
Senior Eric Hughey won the 400-meter dash and anchored the 1,600-meter relay team to victory for Navy, which trailed archrival Army by 19 points with two events remaining. Junior Cole Bailey won the high jump to lead a dominant performance in that event as the Mids scored 21 points to move ahead of the Black Knights.
Hughey, James Love, Sethan Hollier and Simon Petsch clinched the overall victory by winning the 1,600 relay.
It is the seventh straight outdoor conference championship for the Navy men.
“To be honest, we were a big underdog coming into the men’s meet. Army had home-field advantage and our team was not at full strength. There were a lot of things stacked against us,” Cook said. “Going 1-3-4 in the high jump was a big momentum swing, and the 4x400 relay sealed the deal. It was just an amazing come-from-behind win for the men.”
Navy’s second-place finishers on the men’s side were Austin Pierce (100 dash), Sethan Hollier (200 dash), Brahmir Vick (110 hurdles), Julian Perez (3000-meter steeplechase), David Huizenga (discus) and Hayden Fox (javelin).
“Our men showed a lot of grit and composure when we were down a bunch of points,” Cook said. “We got a lot of points out of the decathlon and the discus, which we didn’t expect. We just had guys coming up big left and right.”
Mangan was the Patriot League champ in the 100 and 200 dash, setting a school record with a time of 24.21 seconds in the latter event. The Pittsburgh native ran the second leg of Navy’s victorious 400-meter relay and the anchor leg of the winning 1,600 relay, which set a school record of 3:42.38.
Mangan, who was named Women’s Track Athlete of the Meet, posted a program-record 53.4-second split to close out the 1,600 relay.
“Molly is just so professional in her approach. She is very confident and humble, yet very focused and competitive,” Cook said. “Her performance at the championships was simply spectacular.”
Juniors Chloe Alfieri and Alexa Arthun were both double winners. Alfieri took first in the 400-meter dash and ran a leg on the 1,600-meter relay. Arthun topped the 100-meter hurdles and was part of the winning 400-meter relay team.
Ann Jackson and Sabrina Sutter joined Mangan and Arthun on the 400 relay, while Chelsey Edwards and Shania Vincent teamed with Alfieri and Mangan to form the record-setting 1,600 foursome.
Freshman Annie Taylor scored valuable points by placing third in both the heptathlon and 400 hurdles along with fourth in the 100 hurdles.
The Midshipmen posted big points in the steeplechase with freshman Ellie Abraham placing second on the strength of the second-best time (10:32.75) in program history. Annie Imhof took third while Winter Boese was fourth.
“That was only the third time Ellie had run the steeplechase, so that was impressive,” Cook said.
Senior Sam Orie set school records in placing second in the shot put (50-7 ¼) and third in the hammer throw (197-9).
Cook gave a shout out to assistant Rory Quiller for developing the women’s pole vaulters, who also scored big points. Sophomore Stephanie Jacobs was runner-up in that event, while Charlene Morke took third and Alayna Schloeder finished fourth.
It was the third straight outdoor conference championship for the Navy women, who piled up 295 points. That smashed the meet record of 237 points established by Army in 1994.
“We were pretty much dominant from the outset on the women’s side. We scored a ton of points in a lot of different places,” Cook said. “I thought the women really came ready to compete on the second day. We had a lot of personal bests, school records and top five performances.”
Navy has swept the Patriot League Outdoor Track and Field Championships all three seasons it has been held since Cook became head coach in 2017. This year was no guarantee after a month-long pause of all athletic activities at the Naval Academy interrupted the training regimen.
“This one had a little more meaning because of all the struggles we’ve had as a team and uphill battle all season,” said Cook, whose squads also swept Army in the Star meet. “Fortunately, we’ve been ready to compete when it really matters. I’m just really proud of the way we were able to overcome a lot of adversity over the course of the season.”
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Navy now advances to the NCAA East Regional, being held at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville May 27-30.