The Slippery Rock University men’s outdoor track team is set to host their third meet this season with the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Championships that will run from Thursday through Saturday this weekend.
This will mark the first time The Rock has hosted the PSAC Championships since 2011. Having a meet like this on your home turf can give a slight advantage to the athletes, explained SRU track head coach John Papa.
“It’s great for our athletes to compete on their own facilities ’cause they’re very familiar with them,” Papa said. “You know a home field advantage kinda like in a lot of other sports so that definitely helps. We have a great facility here without a doubt.”
For the men, senior J.J. Ollio looks to continue his dominance in the shot put, as he is currently on a five-week run of NCAA provisional marks, while also improving his shot each week. His last toss came last week at the Ashland Alumni Open with a first-place throw of 17.21 meters, currently his personal best, which helped Ollio move to 20th on the national list.
“When you’re highly motivated, you know a lot of good things happen,” Papa said regarding Ollio. “He’s just been figuring some things out ’cause the throws, a lot of that’s technical. You can try as hard as you can, but if you’re not lined up correctly…kinda like being a baseball pitcher so it’s not easy.”
Last week at Ashland, Ollio also broke his personal best in the discus, with a throw of 51.65 meters, also earning him a win and an NCAA provisional mark in the process.
Senior Anderson Novalin might give his teammate Ollio a run for his money, as he placed third in the shot put last week with a toss of 16.92 meters, also earning an NCAA mark.
Also coming off NCAA marks last week were seniors Jordan Pacheco and Andrew Koksal, who placed second and third with matching clearances of 4.8 meters in the pole vault.
On the track, The Rock’s 4×100 meter relay team is coming off a win last week from sophomore Ian Nieves, junior Collin Darby, freshman Dillon Butz, and sophomore Liam Okal with a time of 41.52 seconds.
“We had our indoor championships and we saw most of the athletes there,” Papa said. “Some of the events are different, but still most of the athletes that are going to be here were at the indoor championships so our guys at all the different events have a really good idea of what everybody can do.”
With this being one of the last chances for some of the seniors on the team, Papa mentioned how in the past they have risen to the occasion in the final meets in their last go around.
“I know every year at our conference championships we have some pleasant surprises,” Papa said. “I know a lot of times the seniors in their last ditch effort they find that little bit extra so I’d say our seniors they’re going to provide us with the leadership and give us a couple surprises.”
Following the PSAC Championships, the team will have one last meet in the Last Chance Meet in Allegheny, Pa. next Friday before NCAA Nationals May 24-26 in Charlotte, NC.