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College Track and Field: Riley Knott reaches rarefied air in high jump, leads slew of AK athletes to PRs; UAA’s Caleb, Angarita notch school records

by | Feb 12, 2024 | Cover Story, Running, Track and Field, UAA

Riley Knott during his high jump approach at the New Mexico Open. Photo by Dean Gutierrez

Two Rivers’ Riley Knott has had a steadfast progression since picking up the high jump over seven years ago.

The Cal-Berkeley junior recently rose to new heights, clearing 6 feet, 10.25 inches to place runner-up at the New Mexico Team Open, achieving a height few Alaskans have surpassed.

Knott, a former standout for Lathrop High, started from humble beginnings, working his way up from 5-0 to 6-4 during his prep career. Since representing the Golden Bears, the junior has made waves in the vertical jumps, in addition to the multi-events.

He boasts the No. 9 performance in the heptathlon in program history, while placing seventh in the decathlon at the Pac-12 Championships in 2022 and recording five event wins — twice for javelin and thrice for high jump. Of the 22 times Knott has competed in the high jump collegiately, 15 have resulted in jumps above 6-6.

Knott’s 6-10.25 jump is an improvement of 1.25 inches from his previous best set eight months ago. To put the mark into perspective, only three known Alaskans have ventured higher.

Anchorage’s Ray Mitchell, a former Bartlett High star, reached 7-2.25 in 1983 while competing for the College of Southern Idaho, before pursuing long jump in his post-collegiate years.

Also in 1983, fellow Bartlett High grad, Steve Whaley, launched over 7-1 while representing Virginia Tech, achieving the mark at least once during both his indoor and outdoor campaigns.

Most recently, Tevin Gladden, a former Lathrop High star and UAA All-American achieved 6-11 during the 2017 edition of the GNAC Outdoor Championships to set the program record.

And while Knott may return to the multi-events, his strong suit remains in the high jump as he inches closer to the all-time mark set by Mitchell.

Brady Burrough mid-race. Photo by Fort Lewis Athletics

At the Don Kirby Elite Invitational, Fort Lewis teammates Brady Burrough and Skyler McIntyre registered personal bests in the mile while competing at 4,900 feet elevation. Burrough, a South High grad, clocked 4:24.58 to shave off 1.54 seconds while also running a leg on the 4×400 relay. McIntyre, a Sitka High grad, who is competing in his first track season since 2019, lined up for the mile (4:30.97) and 3,000 (8:52.42), both of which convert to significant PRs at sea level.

Also having success in the mile at altitude was Anchorage’s Sebastian Szweda Mittelstadt who competes for Westminster (Utah). The senior knocked nearly six seconds off his time at the Stacy Dragila Open, running 4:20.27 to smash the program record. Szweda Mittelstadt followed up the performance with a 2.05-second improvement in the 800 (1:55.45), becoming the No. 4 performer in program history.

Eagle River’s Emily Walsh returned to action at the GVSU Big Meet, recording a personal best in the mile (4:59.14), lopping 2.79 seconds from her previous best from two weeks prior and placing 11th in the 66-person field. The Cedarville junior also made her debut in the 3,000 (10:21.68) at the Wittenberg Steemer Showcase where she took sixth.

Girdwood’s Ava Earl lowered her personal best in the 3,000 at the Boston University David Hemery Valentine Invitational, running 9:04.68. The time is an improvement by 0.97 seconds, lowering her No. 2 marks in both program and Alaska history. The Northwestern junior trails only Allie Ostrander (8:48.94) and former teammate, Rachel McCardell (9:02.90).

Anchorage’s Kaleb Beloy recorded a massive personal best in the 3,000 at the 9th Annual Indoor Gorilla Classic. The CSU-Pueblo junior clocked 8:20.39 to knock 22.08 seconds from his previous best and finish eighth in the 54-person field. Beloy also ran a leg on the distance medley relay which placed seventh in a season-best time.

At the Whitworth Indoor Invitational, Eastern Oregon teammates James Connally and Luke Davis had impressive showings, while UAA flourished, setting three program records.

Connally, a former Juneau-Douglas High standout, helped the Mounties slash nearly four seconds from their season best in the 4×400-meter relay, stopping the clock at 3:17.80 to finish runner-up and reset the program record that had stood since 2019. The time was just quick enough to achieve the NAIA A standard and currently sits tied for tenth in the NAIA this season. The season rankings will determine the indoor contenders for the national meet, held at the end of February.

James Connally (289) poses with his relay teammates at the Whitworth Indoor Invitational. Photo by EOU Sports

Davis, a former Haines High star, competed in the mile for the second time this season, running 4:38.47 on the 200-meter banked track. The Eastern Oregon freshman improved his collegiate mark by 6.5 seconds, setting a lifetime bests and running under 4:40 for the first time in his career. In just four meets, Davis has debuted in four different events, showing signs of success in the middle-distance range.

The Seawolves were represented across the board with Sitka’s Joei Vidad leading the green and gold in the 400 (58.75) to become the No. 8 performer in program history, followed by a personal best from Anchorage’s Sophia Cvancara (59.97), who finished under 60 seconds for the first time in her career. Anchorage’s Kaitlyn Backman (1:02.68) rounded out the squad, while Soldotna’s Jordan Strausbaugh made her indoor collegiate debut in the mile (5:25.32), competing for the first time since September.

Haines’ Avery Williamson competed well in the 3,000 (11:00.82), followed by Palmer’s Sofija Spaić (11:15.91), who bettered her personal best by nearly four seconds. Anchorage’s Mikayla Mader was the lone competitor in the high jump, clearing 4-11.75 on her first attempt before taking three attempts at 5-1.75. Mader’s clearance ranks No. 7 in program history.

Newcomer Joshua Caleb wasted no time in his collegiate debut for the Seawolves, bolting to the win and program record in the 60, clocking 6.73 seconds, before finishing runner-up in the 200 with a second program record of 21.43 seconds. Not to mention, all three 60-meter races showed unmatched consistency, with Caleb clocking 6.73, 6.74 and 6.74 seconds. The freshman currently leads the GNAC in both events, which are a mere 0.01 and 0.03 seconds away from eclipsing the conference records, as well. Caleb’s 60-meter time sits tied for No. 14 in Division II this season, while his 200 time is tied for No. 23.

The Nigeria native obliterated the previous records held by Anchorage’s Darrion Gray (6.92 & 21.60) from 2018 and Jamaica’s Enrique Campbell (6.92), who tied Gray’s former mark in 2022. Caleb joins UAA with an already impressive resume, having competed in the finals at the African U20 Championships and Nigerian Championships.

Joining Caleb during the record-breaking day in Spokane was none other than senior Kevin Angarita. The Colombia native placed runner-up in the 400, crossing the line at 48.21 seconds to break the program record by 0.04 seconds, which was set by teammate Max Kremser last season. Angarita’s 400 time currently leads the GNAC and sits at No. 32 in Division II this season.

UAA’s Joshua Caleb and Kevin Angarita. Photo by Ian Marks/UAA XC/TF

Also competing for UAA was Eagle River’s Morgan Grant, who registered a personal best in the long jump (21-6), improving by a staggering 17.5 inches to become the No. 7 performer in program history. Anchorage’s Eric Bushnell demolished his personal best in the shot put (38-3.5) by 2.5 feet, moving up to No. 5 in program history. Anchorage’s Brian Morris competed in the 200 (22.87), while Ty Elliott doubled up in the mile (4:19.12) and 3,000 (8:49.61), and Homer’s Lance Seneff competed in the mile (4:31.47) and 800 (2:01.47).

Eagle River’s Anders Larsen debuted in the heptathlon, placing fourth with 4,602 points to become the No. 4 performer in program history, while also registering personal bests in the high jump (5-10.75, UAA No. 7), 60 (7.17), shot put (37-9.5, UAA No. 6), pole vault (12-4, UAA No. 4) and 1,000 (3:04.68), in addition to competing in the 60 hurdles (9.00) and long jump (20-9.25).

Other notable indoor track and field performances from Alaskans:

  • Homer’s Brooke Miller ran to a personal best at the New Mexico Team Open. The Colorado Mesa junior competed in the 800 (2:17.25), improving by 0.53 seconds and becoming the No. 2 performer in program history.
  • Wasilla’s Timothy Grisso made his collegiate debut at the UND Open. The U-Mary freshman competed in the 60 (7.50) and 200 (23.64).
  • Anchorage’s Murphy Dykstra set a pair of lifetime bests at the Grinnell Invitational. The Grinnell freshman competed in the triple jump (40-10.5), improving by 15.25 inches and slicing 1.49 seconds from his 200 (25.83).
  • Homer’s Seamus McDonough set a personal best at the Lynn Ruddy Invitational. The Bowdoin freshman placed runner-up and bettered his 3,000 (8:45.28) by 6.76 seconds.
  • Anchorage’s Lucy Young ran to a personal best at the Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational. The William & Mary junior placed fifth in the mile (5:05.01), improving by 3.36 seconds.

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