Track and Field Wrap Up of Successful 2017 Outdoor Season

May 31, 2017

DUBUQUE, Iowa – The University of Dubuque women’s and men’s track and field programs concluded a record breaking 2017 campaign.

“We’ve taken some giant steps forward this season! It was certainly one for the record books with many on track achievements to celebrate. However, the biggest achievement we made as a program was our growth and positive trajectory in our team culture, leadership, and accountability,” commented UD head coach Chad Gunnelson. “I’m proud of our seniors, I’m proud of this team for how they represented the University. We did leave some points out there, and have specific areas for improvement to address in the off season, but we are in a great place, with some great young people!”

The Spartans capped off the 2017 outdoor season with eight qualifiers for the 2017 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships where they brought home four All-Americans and one national champion. Tanasha Atwater (Jr., Davenport, Iowa/Davenport Central) claimed the first women’s outdoor track and field national championship in program history and the first on the men’s or women’s side since 2014. Atwater brought home the championship in the shot put with a school and stadium record toss of 15.09m (49-06.25).

Alex Link, Blaze Murfin and Fabiola Ortiz all claimed All-American honors as well. Link (Jr., Dubuque, Iowa/Dubuque Senior) finished in second place in the discus throw with a long throw of 51.21m (168-00), right behind the winner who threw 51.56m (169-02). Blaze Murfin (Dallas City, Ill./Illini West) placed eighth in the shot put, tossing the shot 16.28m (53-05.00). Fabiola Ortiz (Sr., Elgin, Ill./St. Charles North) won her prelim of the 3000m steeplechase and then finished in seventh place in the finals with a time of 10:46.96 to finish her UD career as an All-American.

After winning the 2017 Indoor Iowa Conference meet, the men’s track and field team finished in fourth place at the 2017 Outdoor Iowa Conference meet with champions in three events.  Blaze Murfin won the shot put and the hammer throw, and Alex Link won the discus.

The women’s team also finished fourth at the IIAC Outdoor meet with 133 points. Fabiola Ortiz was named IIAC Women’s Track MVP as she won the 1500m run, 3000m steeplechase and finished second as a member of the 4x800m relay. Other winners included, Tanasha Atwater in shot put, Danielle Wegter (Fr., Muscatine, Iowa/Muscatine) in discus, Rebecca Burmahl (So., Monticello, Iowa/Monticello) in hammer throw, and Abigail Willis (Sr., DeWitt, Iowa/Central-Clinton) in the javelin.

The men’s and women’s teams both won four meets each in the 2017 season. The Spartans broke more than 27 school records this season, and have broken more than 60 school records over the six years that Chad Gunnelson has been head coach.