Rock men gearing up for conference championships

Published by adviser, Author: Jeffrey Cupp - Rocket Contributor, Date: April 12, 2017
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The Slippery Rock University men’s outdoor track team competed in the Western Pa. challenge at IUP and sent athletes to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia to compete in the Decathlon competition. The Rock men recorded 11 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) marks, including one NCAA provisional mark and nine event wins at IUP, along with three finishers in the decathlon at Liberty University.

Rock head coach John Papa said the IUP event was “cold in the morning before noon, but it was better than the weather we had at home last weekend.”

In the 200-meter dash, senior Brandon Vanderbrook took third place with a time of 22.32 seconds, followed by sophomore Colin Darby in fourth place with a time of 22.34. In the 400-meter dash, junior James Chandler won the event with a time of 50.75, but unfortunately did not record a PSAC mark.

In the 800-meter run, senior Ryan Thompson recorded a time of 1:55.50 which won his event; in the 110-meter hurdles, freshman Ian Nieves won the event with a time of 14.94; in the 400-meter hurdles, senior Jacob VanHouten won the event with a time of 54.40 seconds;  and in the 4×400-meter relay, the group consisting of Darby, sophomore Jeff Bailey, Vanderbrook and Nieves raced a time of 42.02 to win the competition.

Junior Jordan Pacheco placed second in the pole vault with a clearance distance of 4.61 meters and in the long jump, sophomore Jesse Romanchak won the event with a distance of 6.62 meters. Senior JJ Ollio recorded two event wins in the shot put with a distance of 15.32 meters and in the discus with a distance of 44.95 meters.

“JJ continues to compete at a very high level in the throws,” Papa said. “He’s consistently good, so I would give him the gold star of the weekend.”

Ollio was followed by graduate student David Reinhardt in second place with a distance of 43.73 meters. Reinhardt also won the hammer throw with a distance of 55.42 meters, which was the only NCAA mark of the weekend.

The nine event wins for The Rock was the most they recorded so far this year.

“It felt good, the competition was good, IUP, Seton Hill, West Liberty have some really good performers, and a lot of our kids competed well even though the conditions weren’t too great,” Papa said.

At Liberty University, The Rock was led by senior Erick Lee in fourth place with 5,655 points, followed by freshman Dylan Colcombe in fifth place with 5,595, then sophomore Steven Girgash with 5,371.

“They’re showing a lot of promise, but the weather was hampering them a lot so the scores were down. They’re going to be very competitive in the championships this year, which is their next decathlon,” Papa said.

The Rock will head to the Bison Outdoor Classic at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa. The most interesting story this weekend will be Thompson taking another shot at the SRU 1,500-meter run that he set back in Raleigh a couple weeks ago.

“He’ll be in a group of guys who are just as fast as he is, so he’ll be looking to improve on his performance from Raleigh.”

It is supposed to rain on Saturday in Lewisburg, but that shouldn’t hold The Rock back as they expect to have some strong performances this weekend.

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