The Slippery Rock University men’s track team was split between two locations over the weekend, the first being at the Cal U Early Bird Invite in California, (Pa.) and the second being Adidas Raleigh Relays in at N.C. State University.
Rock coach John Papa said there are advantages to splitting the squad up for a weekend.
“Rather than everyone else sitting at home doing nothing, we have another meet,” Papa said. “Plus we had some other people that were good enough to go to Raleigh, but they had to get out of class Thursday and Friday, to some students it’s a big deal to miss two days.”
Down south in North Carolina, two first-place Division II finishes and eight Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) qualifying marks led the way for a very solid day of competition.
Senior Ryan Thompson and junior Jacob VanHouten were the top two Division II runners in an event laden with Division I talent.
Thompson ran the 1500 meter in 3:52.13 seconds, finishing one second shy of an NCAA provisional qualifying time and two seconds behind an SRU record. Thompson finished 17th overall, but beat out runners from host NC State, Harvard and Michigan State among others.
VanHouten placed 10th in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 53.51, missing the NCAA mark by 0.03 seconds. VanHouten also bested a plethora of Division I runners, such as student-athletes from institutions such as Dartmouth, North Carolina and Duke.
Sophomore Noah Bostick added two PSAC qualifying times on Saturday. Bostick ran the 110 meter hurdles in 15.15 seconds, and then placed 15th in the long jump.
Three additional Rock runners qualified for PSACs over the weekend. Graduate student Monte Chapman and sophomore James Chandler qualified in the 400-meter dash, and sophomore Jeremy Parsons qua;ified in the 5000-meter run.
Only 10 track team members went to North Carolina. The vast majority of the team was in California over the weekend and won three events while they were there.
Senior Savon Salter was the star of the meet. Salter finished the 110-meter hurdles in 15.89 seconds while also topping the field in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 55.82 seconds. Salter was joined in the 400-meter by senior Andrew Schroder, who finished fourth.
Junior JJ Ollio was The Rock’s other event win for the day, throwing the discus 44.28 meters. Ollio also added another impressive finish to his resume, placing second in the shot put. Junior Jerrod Galloway also finished second as a thrower, this time in the javelin with a 50.51 meter throw.
Two more runners had top-five finishes on the day. Freshman Colin Darby placed fourth in the 200-meter dash, and junior Tyler Palenchak was the runner-up in the 800-meter run.
To round out the day, two Rock jumpers placed second in their events, sophomore Andrew Koksol in the pole vault with a 4.41-meter effort, and freshman Lance Thornton who leaped 1.95 meters in the high jump.
“I think Tyler Palenchak did a really good job in the 8oo meters and got second. I would have to look at the results to see, but looking at everybody competing and doing well, I think that a lot of our guys are heading in the right direction,” Papa said. “Some of our guys certainly have a long way to go. It’s early in the season but it’s a quick season, because the second weekend of May we are done.”
Slippery Rock will be at home on April 2 for the Dave Labor Invite at Mihalik-Thompson Stadium.