Track and field teams shine at Raleigh Relays

The Demon Deacons had 10 finishes within the top-10


Courtesy of WFU Athletics

Members of the women’s track team compete at the Raleigh Relays.

Christina Denovio, Staff Writer

The Wake Forest men’s and women’s outdoor track and field teams showcased their talent and depth at the Raleigh Relays over the weekend.  

“Our goal was to win the heats we were in and not worry about the clock,” associate head coach Ashley Bastron said. “If we pay attention to the process, the outcome will take care of itself.”

The competition took place March 23-25 at the Paul Derr Track and Field Complex. The weekend turned out to be a success for the Demon Deacons, who secured a total of 10 finishes within the top 10, including three top-three finishes.

Sophomore Rynard Swanepoel had a standout performance, as he finished with a time of 1 minute, 47.92 seconds in the men’s 800-meter to earn a silver medal. Swanepoel’s finish at the Raleigh Relays is the third-fastest in Wake Forest program history. 

I felt good after finishing second in the 800,” Swanepoel said. “My coaches told me not to focus too much on the time this weekend but to focus on winning my race. I did want to run under 1:48 for 800, and I am glad I managed to do so.”

He continued, “My goals for the rest of the season are to score points at the ACC Championships and qualify for the national meet in June.”

His performance over the weekend also marks his second podium claim during the first two weekends of outdoor competition after achieving first in the 1500 during the 49er Classic the previous week.

Another Demon Deacon who had an impressive weekend was graduate student Anna Bush, whose 5.77-meter distance in the women’s long jump earned her seventh place. Her jump was also the eighth longest in program history.

“I was reasonably happy,” Bush said. “I have been dealing with a concussion I experienced during the indoor season, so I have missed quite a bit of training. We used this weekend to kind of see where we are at and what we really need to work on.”

Bush has now recorded top-10 Wake Forest performances on back-to-back days, as she came in sixth place for her 14.16-second time in the 100 hurdles Friday.

My biggest goals for the season focus on the process of each event and really working toward becoming more consistent with my execution of each event,” Bush said. “I know if I can do this, the point scores and distances that I am working towards will come. However, I prefer to focus less on the numbers and more on the execution and process of each event.”

Freshman Sophie Perez Gonzalez threw the second-best hammer throw in program history for the second week in a row. Her 56.75-meter throw, which earned her the No. 11 spot, was nearly two meters longer than the previous week’s distance at High Point. 

“To be honest, that day I didn’t feel very good, and I didn’t expect that result,” Perez Gonzalez said about coming in 11th. “But I’m happy because, despite everything, I threw a new [personal best], and it’s my first outdoor season in the United States, which makes me feel pretty happy because I’m completing one of my dreams that I had four years ago.”

She continued: “At the end of the competition, I was very grateful to [Associate Head] Coach [Collin] Post and my teammates for the support they have given me in practices and meets, and I am excited for the next competitions as they will be even better.”

Senior Katrina Andreassen, whose throw hit 54.14 meters, also recorded a top-five hammer throw in program history and finished 20th.

The men’s side also had a successful performance in the hammer throw, with three Demon Deacons finishing in the top 15.

For the rest of the season, the main goal is to keep improving, ultimately beating my personal best distance.

— Jack Pihlkar, graduate hammer thrower

Graduate student Jack Pihlkar, who recorded a 61.76-meter throw, earned an eighth-place finish for what was the fifth-best throw in program history. Pihlkar, who now claims two records of the top five at Wake Forest, called his results at the Raleigh Relays “bittersweet.” 

“It’s not the result I would have liked and know that I could perform much better,” Pihlkar said, “but I’m happy that it was a decent meet where I was consistent and got a result that should qualify me for postseason meets — especially after a poorer meet last week and after throwing two other events this weekend.”

He continued: “For the rest of the season, the main goal is to keep improving, ultimately beating my personal best distance.”

Looking toward the future, Pihlkar said, “I hope to obtain other accolades like a top-three finish in the ACC Championship Meet and make it past the East Region Preliminary Meet so that I can participate in the NCAA Championship.”

Graduate student Andrew White and junior Jacob Goldberg finished closely behind Pihlkar in 10th and 14th place, respectively.

The Demon Deacons will next compete in High Point March 31-April 1 in the Vertklasse Meet.

Correction March 31, 2023: A previous version of this article misstated the next competition for the team. The story now displays the correct meet location and name.