Freshman runner Ian Nieves placed fourth in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.21 this past weekend when The Rock traveled to Youngstown, Ohio to compete in the YSU Icebreaker.
Nieves’s efforts in the hurdles hit the NCAA provisional qualifying mark in his collegiate debut, while others helped gather 19 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) qualifying marks along with 14 top-five finishes. The Rock had a top-five finish in every event except the 200-meter dash, with sophomore sprinter Collin Darby finishing seventh in the event.
“He (Nieves) is on the tall side, but he was able to adjust very quickly,” head coach John Papa said. “It’s a bit of a different race than high school with the hurdles now three inches taller, but his athleticism took over.”
Senior sprinter and hurdler Jacob VanHouten finished shortly behind Nieves in the 60-meter hurdles placing sixth with a time of 8.52. VanHouten would also finish second in the 400-meter dash recording a time of 49.29. In the 800-meter run, freshman runner Matthew Town placed second with a time of 1:58.73, just shy of the PSAC qualifying mark of 1:58.50.
The mile run was dominated by senior runner Tyler Palenchak, who placed second with a time of 4:26.11. The Green and White also finished third in the 4×400-meter relay behind the legs of Darby, VanHouten, senior Andrew Schroder and junior Caleb Smithco. The foursome together tallied a 3:22.23 time in the event.
“This time of year, all we are concerned about is our performance,” Papa said. “Right now it’s about getting our personal best the best it can be and qualifying for nationals or conference.”
Junior pole vaulter Andrew Koksal finished second in the pole vault event with a clearance of 4.55 meters, while senior Adam Leeper also placed second in the long jump, notching a distance of 6.77 meters.
In the weight throw, graduate student David Reinhardt hit a distance of 17.07 meters, finishing second in the event. Reinhardt placed second with his distance but was just short of the NCAA provisional mark of 17.19 meters.
“Dave sat out last year with an injury,” Papa said. “But we were very impressed with how he was able to come back from that.”
On Saturday and Sunday at the Mike Kowal Multi in Edinboro, senior multi-event specialist Erik Lee won the heptathlon with a total of 4,293 points. Lee ran 7.57 in the 60-meter dash, a 5.78 meters long jump, and threw the shot put 12.49 meters. Lee continued with 1.64 meters in the high jump, notched a time of 9.14 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles, cleared 3.35 meters in the pole vault and ran a time of 2:49.38 in the 1,000-meter run.
The Rock will enter winter break with a lot of confidence after their performances this weekend. Men’s indoor track will resume after winter break when the Green and White travel back to Youngstown, Ohio for the YSU Invitational on Friday, Jan. 20th.