Led by juniors Kaitlyn Clark and Ashley West, the Slippery Rock University women’s indoor track and field team had multiple top-10 finishers at the Youngstown State College Invitational last Friday.
Clark and West each recorded NCAA provisional qualifying marks in the pole vault and high jump respectively. Clark took second place, as she managed to clear 3.65 meters, the second best mark by a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference athlete this year. Also competing in the pole vault was freshman Courtney McQuaide who cleared 3.5 meters, which was good for fourth place. West also took second place in her event with a jump of 1.67 meters. Fellow junior, Paige Kassab, was right behind West in third place with a jump of 1.62 meters. Kassab also competed in the triple jump, where she came in 10th with a 10.66 meter jump.
SRU head coach John Papa said the success from his athletes comes with no surprise.
“We know that a high percentage of our girls are good athletes and have a lot of potential,” Papa said. “I can’t say that there has been any one big surprise so far this year.”
In the throwing events, senior Brittany Christiansen lead the Rock with fifth and sixth place finishes in the weight throw and shot put respectively. In the weight throw, Christiansen had a 15.75 meter throw and junior Breanna Northcott had a 15.63 meter toss, landing her right behind Christiansen in sixth place. In the shot put, Christiansen’s best throw was 12.07 meters and sophomore Caitlin Whalen took seventh place with an 11.96 meter throw.
The SRU 4×400 meter relay team ran a time of 4:01.71, taking third place at the meet. They were bested only by Division I schools the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University. The team was comprised of juniors Jasmine Bailey, Lexie Nowakowski, Cassandra Swartzbaugh, and sophomore Lauren Harvey. Individually, Bailey also took part in the 200 and 60 meter dashes. In the 200 meter dash, Bailey ran a time of 25.56 seconds, the fastest time by any PSAC runner this season. Bailey finished in fifth place. In the 60 meter dash, Bailey clocked a time of 7.94 seconds in 10th. In the 400 meter dash, Harvey and Nowakowski finished in eighth and 12th respectively. Harvey ran a time of 59.79 seconds, and Nowakowski’s time was 1:00.
Papa credits the team’s success across the board to being able to recruit good athletes and to the quality of his coaching staff.
“We’re able to recruit a lot of good people because Slippery Rock attracts so many of them,” Papa said. “We also have very dedicated coaches who can bring the best out of the girls in pretty much every event.”
In the distance run events, cross-country leaders, Jenny Picot and Janine Powis, excelled. Picot competed in the 5,000 meter run. Picot finished in fourth place with a time of 18:17.12. Picot’s time was the fastest in the PSAC thus far and it qualified her for the PSAC Championships. Powis ran the mile in 5:09.85 minutes, putting her in 11th and qualifying her for the conference meet.
With many of his athletes starting to heat up as the season progresses, Papa believes that his team’s best performances are ahead of them.
“The glory of our sport is that it doesn’t really matter how well we did at the beginning of the season, there’s no win-loss record for us,” Papa said. “We’re continuously working toward the championships in late February because that needs to be our best meet.”
The Rock will return to action at the Division II Challenge in Geneva, Ohio on Jan. 30 and 31.