Slippery Rock University’s men’s track team competed in the Raleigh Relays in North Carolina and the Early Bird Meet hosted by California University (Pa.) over the weekend, recording 24 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) qualifying marks and three NCAA marks including an SRU record-breaking performance by senior Ryan Thompson in the 1,500-meter run.
Thompson ran a time of 3:48.20, which beat the SRU record of 3:50.38, set by Morgan Elliot in 2014, and just barely missed the PSAC record of 3:45.64.
“After my indoor season, I knew I was capable of breaking the record,” Thompson said. “Last year, I was within one second of the record three times, so I was relieved to finally get it.”
Thompson also said he is motivated to go after the all-time PSAC record, saying “there is room for improvement in my race.”
The Raleigh Relays hosted more than 2,000 athletes from 100 schools and professional clubs, so there was a ton of competition surrounding Thompson when he broke the record, which gave him a 14th place finish in the event.
“The atmosphere was exciting. The weather conditions were great and there was intense competition including division one and professional athletes,” Thompson said.
The Rock men came away from the meet with a total of 14 PSAC marks including the three NCAA marks that were recorded by Thompson, then-graduate student David Reinhart in the hammer throw with a distance of 55.52 meters and senior Jacob Vanhouten in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 53.05. Finishing behind Jacob Vanhouten were seniors Sayon Salter with a time of 55.52 and Logan Mooney with a time of 55.61.
In the 100-meter run, the Rock had four PSAC marks with sophomore Colin Darby leading the way with a 14th-place finish at a time of 10.90, followed by senior Brandon Vanderbrook at a time of 10.96, then freshman Ian Nieves at a time of 11.06 and sophomore Jeff Bailey at a time of 11.08. In the 400-meter dash, junior James Chandler ran a time of 50.10, in the 5,000-meter run, junior Jeremy Parsons ran a time of 15:03.89, in the 110-meter hurdles, Nieves ran a time of 14.92, Reinhardt recorded another mark with a 41.05 meter throw in the discus throw and the 4×100-meter Relay team consisting of Darby, Nieves, Bailey and Vanderbrook finished off the day with a time of 41.43, which was good enough for a sixth-place finish.
At the Cal U Early Bird meet, the Rock added 10 more PSAC marks to their total, bringing it to 24 for the weekend. In the 400-meter hurdles, freshman Noah Vanhouten placed second with a time of 55.24, followed by senior Zac Patton with a time of 56.72 in fourth place. Senior Seth Armstrong place eighth in the high jump with a height of 1.85 meters, in pole vault, junior Andrew Koksal placed third with a clearance distance of 4.75 meters, followed by junior Jordan Pacheco in fourth place with 4.60 meters, and freshman Avery Crosley in 10th place with 4.30 meters.
In the long jump, sophomore Steven Girgash finished second with a distance of 6.59 meters, followed by senior Andrew Bridgeforth in third place with a distance of 6.56 meters, and junior Caleb Smithco in fourth place with a distance of 6.51 meters.
Rounding out the marks for the Rock was senior JJ Ollio in the shot put with a distance of 15.20 meters, good enough for third place, and another mark in the discus with a 46.58-meter throw, good enough for second.
“We’re definitely on the same level as Shippensburg and the other top teams in the conference, at an early glance,” Rock head coach John Papa said. “We’ll hopefully be able to challenge for the championship in late spring.”
The Rock will look to host the Dave Labor Invitational this Saturday in the Mihalik-Thompson Stadium on campus. On the first home meet of the season.
“Some of the events like the throwing and jumping, when you’re in your own facility, you’re familiar with it, and it gives you a home advantage,” Papa said. “We typically throw and jump well here, we’ll get some good performances out of our athletes.”
The Rock men will hope to take advantage of this home meet with possibly some of their best performances of the season so far.