The Slippery Rock men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams took off into their season on Saturday by recording a combined 30 top-five finishes, five NCAA provisional qualifying marks, and three event wins at the Youngstown State Invitational.
Freshman Mariah Burns hit two NCAA qualifying marks in her first indoor meet with the Rock. Burns qualified in the triple jump with a winning leap of 11.74 meters, as well as a fourth place finish in the long jump at 5.61 meters.
Burns didn’t know exactly what to expect in her first indoor meet, but she stayed focused on what she had been learning at practices and performed well.
“I achieved two personal records of my track and field career, so I was very excited about that,” Burns said. “God definitely blessed me and allowed me to be able to jump the way I did on Saturday.”
Burns was named the PSAC Field Athlete of the Week for her performance at YSU.
Freshman Ashley West met NCAA qualifying marks in the high jump with a clearance of 1.69 meters that earned her second place.
The final NCAA qualification for the women’s team came from junior pole-vaulter Julia Cain with her clearance of 3.55 meters. Cain took third in the event, followed by freshman Kaitlyn Clark in fourth and senior Angela Shroeder in fifth.
Sophomore Hunter Williams and senior DJ Chisom reached qualifying marks for the men’s team.
Williams qualified by winning the 400-meter dash with a time of 49.17 seconds. He was happy about his first performance and looks forward to improving his time as the season progresses.
“That was my fastest time on an indoor track,” Williams said. “It was nice to open my season up on such a positive note.”
Chisom’s qualifying mark came in the 60-meter dash when he finished fourth with a time of 6.89 seconds.
Slippery Rock’s final event win came from senior Kevin Jewel in the 800 meter run. Jewel clocked a time of 1:56.49 and was followed by junior Morgan Elliott in third with a time of 1:58.87 and sophomore Tyler Melius in fifth at 1:58.93.
Elliott also ran a time of 4:19.22 in the mile to take second place.
Head coach John Papa was pleased with the teams’ results and looks forward to watching them continue to develop their skills.
“I thought our team did a great job,” Papa said. “We had several qualify for the PSAC Championships and meet qualifying standards for Nationals. We have outstanding track and field athletes on the team.”
The Green and White’s 4×400-meter relay teams both had top-five finishes.
The men’s team of Williams, Chisom, sophomore Monte Chapman, and senior Mason McLaughlin took third in the event with a time of 3:22.
Sophomore Katelyn Wetzel, and freshmen Jasmine Bailey, Cassandra Swartzbaugh, and Lexie Nowakowski recorded a time of 4:10 and placed fifth.
Sophomore Brittany Christiansen took second place in the weight throw and was the top Division II athlete with a throw of 14.99 meters. Junior Amanda McCool placed fourth in the event with a throw of 13.83 meters.
Also placing top-five in the field events were senior Kyle Toms, senior Joseph Kelly, junior Victor Santoyo, junior Derick Fiedler, and senior Ryan Camody.
Toms took a second place finish in the weight throw with a mark of 16.18 meters. Kelly was close behind in third with a throw of 16.11 meters.
Santoyo and Fiedler both recorded fourth place finishes for the Rock. Santoyo in the triple jump with a mark of 13.47 meters and Fiedler in the high jump with a clearance of 1.96 meters.
Camody cleared 4.25 meters in the pole vault and placed fifth.
Slippery Rock had several other top-five finishes in the track events at the invitational.
Senior Dan Hedglin came in fourth in the 60-meter high hurdles with a time of 8.38 seconds while Chapman took fifth in the 400-meter dash with a time of 50.56 seconds.
Sophomore Janine Powis led the way for the Rock’s women’s team with second-place finishes in the 800-meter run and the mile.
In the 800-meter run, Powis recorded a time of 2:23.60. She was followed by sophomore Ang Bagwell who came in third with a time of 2:24.47.
Powis was the top collegiate finisher in the mile with a time of 5:12.16. Senior Stephanie Case joined her in the event with a time of 5:16.66 that earned her a third place finish.
Rounding out the top-five finishes for the Rock were senior Kara Styles (2nd), senior Jordan Hausladen (4th), and freshman Karly Knechtel (5th) in the 3,000-meter run.
With finals week quickly approaching, the athletes will be required to keep their focus in order to do well at the upcoming Kent State Golden Flash Gala and the Edinboro heptathlon.
Papa feels that although some of the athletes have nerves about their finals, they will be focused and ready for the weekend’s events.
“Our student athletes are focusing extra hard on preparing for a great track meet,” Papa said. “Kent will be another great test for our athletes. There will be even better competition at this event.”
Slippery Rock sends its multi-event athletes to Edinboro for the heptathlon today while the rest of the team travels to Kent State University for the weekend.