Northern Illinois Gameday Blog - The Inaugural Huskie Open

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May 9, 2009

Join NIU blogger Russell Houghtaling as he chronicles the first Huskie home track meet in 27 years. Northern Illinois is hosting Augustana at the new NIU Track & Field and Soccer Complex.

3:10 p.m.

Delay in blogging because I was out trying to grab some athletes for John Sahly to chat with. The meet is wrapping up now with the discus. The 4x400-meter relay concluded as the final event on the track of the Inaugural Huskie Open. The wide-eyed excitement of this day finally coming hasn't faded. Everyone is still so happy for this event, there's smiles ear-to-ear all-around. Check for complete results from the event here at later today.

2:27 p.m.

I'm hearing Miley Cyrus over the PA for about the 23rd time today. I just realized it's because there are two girls (approximate ages 3 and 8) telling Sundance Wicks what to play.

2:22 p.m.

List of people I'd pay to see run the steeplechase: Associate Soccer Coach Eric Luzzi, Defensive and Offensive Coordinators Tracy Claeys and Matt Limegrover, Associate Men's Basketball Coach Dennis Gates (John Sahly's), Assistant Media Relations Director Joe Summins, Jason Onyebuagu (John Sahly), Yao Ming...

1:56 p.m.

Just welcomed John Sahly of the Daily Chronicle to the press box, as NIU takes 1-2-3 in the 100-meter dash. The PA Announcer just made first call for the 800-meter hurdles (he meant dash). Yikes! Maybe that's the event for Ed Mathey...

1:43 p.m.

Went walking around the track to find some happenings to report. I watched Brittany Houghton blow away the competition in the first 400-meter dash run at this new complex. The triple jump is rocking and rolling. The shot put is also moving along, and we have some more official results. Roneisha Frye won the 100-meter hurdles in 16.44, Jenenne Anthony took first in the javelin with a 41.18 throw, and Sunsea Shaw won the 1,500-meter run in 4:55.45.



Speaking of Sunsea, I was chatting with her earlier about her unique finish to long races. Basically, she just stops. After crossing the finish line for the 1,500-meter, rather than take a few slow down steps, she gets one foot on the ground past the line and comes to a dead stop. It's a testament to her love/hate relationship with running. She might describe it as hate/hate.

1:07 p.m.

Here's a bonus photo of that "can't be anything but uncomfortable" event, the steeplechase. It's Denisse Valladares in the pond and Ashley Rittenbacher coming up to the hurdle.

1:01 p.m.

Ed "Skip" Mathey (head baseball coach) just called Sundance Wicks (PA guy) not 10 minutes before first pitch over at Ralph McKinzie against Ball State. He and assistant basball coach Steve Joslyn said they want to come over and run a race so they, too, can set stadium records. But they have to be in different races, so they can each have one.

12:56 p.m.

As promised, here's a photo of hammer throw winner Ashley Morrow along with the hammer covered in mud after the first throw.

12:34 p.m.

The first javelin throw at the NIU Track & Field and Soccer Complex is moving along, and we have our first results of the day in. All first place finishes are, of course, stadium and meet records. All athletes are NIU unless noted.

Long Jump

1. Brittany Houghton - 5.64m

2. Kelsey Duhai (Augustana) - 5.53m

3. Deidra McIntosh - 5.50m

4. Shoshanna Brown - 5.34m

5. Rochelle Muskeyvalley - 5.31m

6. Taneesha Plair - 5.27m

7. Jenner Sio - 5.18m

Pole Vault

1. Caitlin Quinn (Augustana) - 10-00.00

2. Patty Bautista - 9-00.00

3. Libby Geison - NH

Hammer Throw

1. Ashley Morrow (Unattached, formerly NIU)- 49.46m

2. Faren Williams - 37.27m

3. Amber Gruber (Augustana) - 34.16m

4. Patricia Stoker (Augustana) - 29.67m

5. Melanie Battistoni (Augustana) - 29.56m

6. Jenenne Anthony - FOUL

12:32 p.m.

The steeplechase is well under way, as is the high jump (contested between Huskies Nicole Williams and Kelly Moser). Huskie Meghan Ginter is leading the way in the steeplechase, coming around for like her fourth or fifth jump into the "pit," the part filled with water. That takes something else, to not only run a 3,000-meter race, but to hurdle several jumps, one of which has a big trough of water on the other side. That takes something I sure don't have, especially on a mid-50's, cloudy, windy day like today.

12:10 p.m.

Tim McMurray (Senior Associate A.D. for Development) and I have spent some time discussing my pending wedding to the lovely and talented Erin Jordan this coming fall.   Among the highlights of the discussion are location and food.  Tim is a self-proclaimed expert in "food" and has provided some insight to think about relative to our catering for the big event.

12:05 p.m.

We've turned the corner to the afternoon, and Coach Teaberry is honoring the seniors at midfield. They are: Jenenne Anthony, Shoshanna Brown, Meghan Ginter, Ashley Rittenbacher, Brittany Sasek, and Denisse Valladares. Also, trackster Brandie Lindo sung a terrific rendition of the National Anthem.

11:55 a.m.

Other Huskie volunteers include several members of the NIU men's basketball team. Among the guys helping out are Keith Smith, Tyler Storm, Bryan Hall, Justin Peaster, along with managers Cory Ryan and Jason Dvorak. It's been a real case of Huskies Helping Huskies, today, which is what it's all about.

Unofficially, Brittany Houghton has won the long jump with her leap of 18-6. She also jumped 18-2 today. Her best mark of the year is 18-10, which would put her right in the mix at the upcoming MAC Championships next week.

11:24 a.m.

Brittany Houghton just jumped 18-6, eight inches shy of the school record, and was unhappy with the mark. The sun has come out on a super windy day to warm things up a bit outside.

Some other random notes from the day: Cindy Green, director of marketing, is volunteering in the throws area, and Carly Newlands, who works in development, is going to throw discus (I believe) later in the day. Carly threw in college, so it's not her first rodeo.

11:06 a.m.

While I was writing the last entry, the long jump officially started, as has the hammer throw. The pole vault is just about to get started. The Inaugural Huskie Open in under way!

11:05 a.m.

I just spoke with Ashley Morrow, who graduated in 2006 and is the only NCAA National Championships qualifier since program reinstatement in 2000. She threw hammer for the first time in "a while" and had a pretty nice toss... until it landed and went SPLAT! Heavy rains a couple days ago drenched the throws area, and it's an absolute mud pit right now. I'll try and post a pic of the muddy hammer later.

I also saw Jeff Compher, Associate V.P./A.D., who's hanging out, chatting with student-athletes and taking this great day in. I asked him for his observations so far, and he said, quite honestly "Well, nothing's happened yet." Touche Jeff. Touche.

10:30 a.m.

Sundance Wicks, assistant men's basketball coach and PA announcer for the day just announced first call for the hammer throw, pole vault, and long jump! Meanwhile, the Huskies are gathering at the middle of the soccer field for the Huskie Fight Song!

10:18 a.m.

Excitement is in the blustery air just under an hour from the start of the first Huskie home track meet in 27 years. Augustana, Northern Illinois' opponent for the day, has arrived, and members of both teams are warming up here and there. In the meantime, there are folks making last minute preparations... raking the pits, measuring out marks, etc.

I'm up in the press box overlooking this amazing new facility. It really hit me that this was a reality for the first time when I walked past the steeplechase trough of water thingy (I don't know the name of it), and it was full of water, ready to go. It's here, the next big step for the NIU Track & Field program that's worked so hard, and gone so long without.

Woohoo! I'm excited. Back with more soon. E-mail any questions to me at



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