Trojan title was ‘pleasant surprise’
Fairfield head coach Jerrod Belzer is OK with this type of surprise.
“This was a pleasant surprise,” he said, of Fairfield’s team championship on Tuesday in the Fairfield Relays. “We’re still in the process of getting back in shape coming out of our spring break — so to perform as well as we did was a pleasant surprise.”
Trojan Jada Lippincott got the meet started off right, winning gold in the shot put.
From there, Fairfield’s runners kept accumulating medals.
Sam Fritz, in the 400, and Aluna Olaniyi, in the 400-meter hurdles, took silver medals. Maggie Ferrel took bronze in the 3,000.
Ashley Bloomquist, Fairfield’s high-voltage long-distance runner, took gold in the 1,500, finishing at 5:08.59, holding off Fort Madison’s highly touted star Sierra Howardson (5:09.04).
“I needed to lay back a little while in that race,” Bloomquist said. “I knew Sierra would be running together with her teammate Brett Schneider. So I didn’t take the lead until there was 700 to go.”
And Bloomquist never lost that lead.
“Sierra is a great runner and I have a lot of respect for her,” Bloomquist said. “I didn’t want to give my final kick too early and let Sierra pass me. So I waited until the last 200 for my final kick.”
Bloomquist also helped secure another gold medal, running the anchor in the distance medley.
Jillian Dunlap ran leadoff in the d-med and there was smoke coming out of her gym shoes as soon as the gun went off.
“That was crazy!” beamed Bloomquist. “Jillian got out of the blocks in 28. She did a great job starting off the race for us.”
Said Dunlap, “I was excited for this race, being at home helped. I just tried to get us going.”
Dunlap gave Fairfield a wide lead and Grace Stever, running second, kept it.
“I was a little nervous about this race,” said Stever, a freshman. “Before the race, Jillian told me, ‘We normally do very good in this race,’ and that let me know how important it was.”
Stever handed the baton to Kara Jeffrey.
“Jillian had gotten us out so fast,” Jeffrey said. “Jillian and Grace were both very good.”
Jeffrey never gave up the lead either. She gave some credit to Trojan head coach Jerrod Belzer.
“I heard Belzer yelling, ‘They’re right behind you,’ and that made me go faster,” Jeffrey said. “He knows how to get me going.”
Then came Bloomquist.
“I knew Ashley would finish it up right,” Dunlap said.
“This race,” said Bloomquist, “is a big deal to us.”
Another big deal to Fairfield was the 4x400.
Olaniyi ran leadoff and handed off to Fritz, who ran a strong leg.
Jeffrey, running third, made an electrifying pass of Oskaloosa for first place at the end of her leg, and then anchor Malory Jones never let go of that lead.
“Sam really got out strong as ever,” Jones said. “Kara ran so hard, too — and I felt an obligation to finish the race off right.”