Faced with the tough task of trying to repeat as the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) champions, the Slippery Rock University women’s indoor track team fell just short of their goal in Edinboro last weekend.
The Rock finished the championship in second place, only a few points behind winner Shippensburg University. Shippensburg took the title by scoring 122 points, SRU scored 114 points in second place and in a distant third place was Bloomsburg University with 71 points. The green and white actually spent much of the two day competition in the lead. SRU was the points leader at the end of day one and they lead in day two all the way until the final event, the 4×400 meter relay. The relay team had been a strength for the Rock throughout most of the season and going into the event with a three point lead, SRU was poised to win the PSAC title for the second consecutive year.
However, one of the baton hand-offs went awry, causing one of the runners to fall on the track. The team was ultimately disqualified from the event due to a lane violation, which allowed Shippensburg to take the lead from SRU and take home the title.
SRU head coach John Papa believes that his athletes gave it their all, despite falling short of their goal.
“Our performance was excellent; almost all of our ladies performed to their potential,” Papa said. “We were disappointed that we did not win the meet. Regarding the 4×4 relay, our runners were giving their best effort and they gave everything to help the team win. One of our ladies fell which happens on occasion, that’s how it goes sometimes in track.”
Papa knew that beating Shippensburg would be a tough challenge and he had prepared his athletes accordingly.
“Our mentality was that we were all going to give our best effort and we were aware that everything may not go well, so we were prepared to pick each other up in the face of adversity,” Papa said. “We knew that we would be in the middle of a fierce team battle with Shippensburg.”
Regardless of where the team ended up in the standings multiple individual accolades were earned. Slippery Rock athletes reached nine NCAA provisional marks, won three events, had 15 top five finishes, broke three SRU records, and set a new all-time conference record for the 200-meter dash.
Junior Jasmine Bailey ran the 200 meter dash in 24.85 seconds, wining her the event, earning her a NCAA provisional mark, and breaking several records in the process. Bailey’s time set the new Slippery Rock, PSAC, PSAC championship, and Edinboro facility records. Junior Lexie Nowakowski also ran in the event, coming in eighth place with a time of 25.87 seconds.
In the 60-meter dash Bailey and fellow junior Emily Moroco finished in third and eighth place respectively. Bailey’s time was 7.75 seconds and Moroco’s was 7.96 seconds.
Nowakowski also competed in the 400 meter dash, finishing in fourth place with a time of 58.52 seconds.
In the distance run events senior Janine Powis and junior Jenny Picot also had success. Powis ran in the 800 meter run, coming in fourth place with a time of 2:16.28 minutes. Picot participated in the 3,000 meter run, finishing in second place in 10:01.38 minutes. Picot’s time earned her another one of The Rock’s NCAA provisional marks.
The other Rock relay teams had success on day two. In the 4×800 meter relay the team comprised of junior Creanna Martin, freshman Melissa Rains, sophomore Kaylee Haberkam, and senior Angelica
Bagwell ran a time of 10:00.69 minutes. The distance medley relay team of Powis, Bagwell, Picot, and junior Cassandra Swartzbaugh took third place with a time of 12:16.60 minutes.
The last of the individual runners, sophomore Kennedy Evans, came in fifth place in the 60 meter hurdles with a time of 9.16 seconds.
The green and white also won the pentathlon event. Sophomore Sabrina Anderson won the event and also broke the SRU record by scoring 3,584 points. Anderson and junior Paige Kassab both hit the NCAA provisional mark for the pentathlon. Kassab came in fourth place, scoring 3,248 points.
Kassab also competed in the high jump event, where her and fellow junior Ashley West both hit the NCAA provisional mark. West came in second place with a 1.71 meter jump and Kassab finished in fourth place with a 1.68 meter jump.
West also placed fourth in the long jump and sixth in the triple jump. West’s long jump was 5.46 meters and her triple jump was 11.33 meters. Junior Sam Taylor came in seventh place in the triple jump with a distance of 11.13 meters.
Junior Kaitlyn Clark won her second straight conference title in the pole vault event with a clearance of 3.76 meters, a NCAA provisional mark. Most of the indoor team will be shifting their focus to the upcoming outdoor track and field season, however Clark’s indoor season is not over just yet. Clark was selected to participate at the 2015 NCAA Division II National Championships in Birmingham Alabama on March 13–14. This will be Clark’s second trip to the national competition and she will be looking to win her first All-American honor.
The throwing events were highlighted by a broken SRU record and two NCAA provisional marks. Senior Brittany Christiansen broken the SRU record in the weight throw with a 17.1 meter toss. Christiansen had held the record previously until it was broken a few weeks ago by teammate Breana Northcott, now Christiansen holds the record again. Northcott also competed this weekend and earned a NCAA provisional mark in the weight throw with a throw of 17.03 meters. Christiansen finished in third place and Northcott ended in fourth. In the shot put Christiansen had 12.55 meter throw, good for sixth place, and freshman Anna Frengel had a 12.38 meter throw, placing her in eighth.
Despite not getting the finish they wanted, the women’s indoor team will transition into the outdoor season knowing what they will have to do in order to take the next step and win the PSAC title.
Papa knows the ladies are ready to get right back to it and work hard.
“Since the ultimate goal of our women’s track and field team is to win the outdoor championships at the end of April, we have a chance to redeem ourselves at that event,” Papa said. “Our ladies are extra motivated to train and compete to their fullest this outdoor season. We are ready for the outdoor season, our athletes are excited for the challenge, I expect plenty of outstanding performances throughout the outdoor season. We expect that Shippensburg will be training hard and they will be ready for us as well.”
With renewed motivation and a new rivalry in the making, the Rock will be training hard for their first outdoor meet on March 13 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.