After a strong finish to the indoor season by placing second overall at the PSAC Indoor Championships, the Slippery Rock men’s track team started off the outdoor track season with success at the Coastal Carolina Invitational in Myrtle Beach, SC.
An event win and NCAA provision were met, as well as eight top-five finishes and 19 PSAC qualifications.
Junior Jacob VanHouten was the clear standout over the weekend, winning the 400-meter hurdles and qualifying nationally. VanHouten posted a time of 53.35 seconds and was joined by three of his teammates in the event.
“We had some stellar performances, Jake VanHouten in particular is looking really good,” SRU head coach John Papa said. “He’s going to be one of the top 400-hurdlers in the conference. We’re real excited about what he did there.”
Junior Savon Salter placed fifth, also placing 12th in the 110-meter hurdles. Rounding out Slippery Rock performers were senior Andrew Schroder finishing sixth, and junior Logan Mooney ninth.
Senior Ryan Thompson was second in the 800-meter run, clocking in at 1:56.10. Thompson also ran 3:59.75 in the 1,500-meter run, good for an eighth-place finish. Junior Tyler Palenchak also placed in the 1,500-meter, finishing 13th with a 4:01.67 time.
Sophomore Jeremy Parsons was second in the 5,000-meter run, posting a 15:00.61 time to lead Slippery Rock’s distance runners for the day.
Papa was happy with Parson’s 5,000-meter time at this point in the year.
“His 5,000-meters was a pretty solid effort for the middle of March,” Papa said. “We’re excited about what he’s going to do this year too.”
Two Slippery Rock jumpers were runner-ups in their events. Sophomore Andrew Koksal placed second in the pole vault, vaulting 4.55 meters.
Senior Adam Leeper also finished second in the triple jump, leaping 13.90 meters. Leeper also placed 10th in the long jump with a 6.53-meter finish.
The 4×100 meter relay team opened the season with a third-place finish. Sophomore Connor Labarge, junior Erik Record, freshman Collin Darby, and junior Brandon Vanderbrook posted a time of 41.93 seconds. Vanderbrook and Darby also each placed in the open 100-meter dash with Vaderbrook finishing sixth and Darby 11th. Darby also finished 23rd in the 200-meter dash to finish the track performances for the weekend.
A pair of Rock throwers placed in two events each. Junior JJ Ollio finished fifth in the shot put and 10th in the discus, while freshman Brendon Stamm was 15th in the shot put and 18th in the discus.
“JJ’s our stand out thrower so we’re looking for a lot of great things out of him this outdoor season,” Papa said. “I would say in general that we hit the ground running, but we still have a bunch of guys that haven’t competed outdoors yet.”
All athletes mentioned met PSAC qualifications.
Slippery Rock will have the upcoming weekend of but will return for the Raleigh Relays at North Carolina State University, March 25th and 26th.