The Slippery Rock University’s men’s outdoor track team kicked off the 2017 outdoor season at the Seahawk Invitational on March 10 and 11 followed by the Mount Olive Invitational over the weekend. The Rock men began the season with 42 total Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) provisional marks and came away with 10 event wins, all which happened at the Mount Olive Invitational.
Head Coach John Papa said about the start, “I think that both of the meets were considered ‘rust busters’ the men were getting used to the outdoor track as compared to the indoor track, outdoors you need to deal with the weather, especially the wind and cold as compared to indoor track.”
Graduate student David Reinhardt led the way for The Rock at the Seahawk Invitational, recording two NCAA provisional marks with two-second place finishes in the javelin (58.78 meters) and the hammer throw (54.24 meters). He also recorded a fourth-place finish in the discus with 42.20 meters. Senior JJ Ollio also finished third in the discus with a distance of 43.75 meters and he also finished third in the shot put with a distance of 15.04 meters.
Sophomore Jesse Romanchak placed fifth in the triple jump with a distance of 13.40 meters, in the 400-meter hurdles, senior Jacob VanHouten placed second with a time of 53.82, followed by freshman Noah VanHouten with a time of 55.82 for fifth place and then freshman Ian Nieves in ninth place with a time of 57.03. In the 110-meter hurdles, Nieves placed fourth with a time of 14.74 followed by senior Savon Salter with a time of 15.35, in the mile run, freshman John Marenkovic placed fourth with a time of :23.63, in the 200-meter dash, sophomore Colin Darby finished seventh with a time of 22.39, in the 100-meter dash, Darby also finished fourth with at time of 11.08, followed by senior Brandon Vanderbrook with a distance of 11.14, Nieves with a time of 11.15, and freshman Liam Okal with a time of 11.17, and finally in the 4×400-meter relay a team that consisted of junior James Chandler, Jacob Vanhouten, Darby, and Salter, placed third with a time of 3:23.20, rounding out the 17 PSAC marks for the Rock.
At the second meet in Mount Olive, North Carolina, the Rock men recorded 25 PSAC marks alongside 10 event wins. Leading the way again for the Rock was Reinhardt who recorded a win in the hammer with a distance of 56.46 meters and the Javelin with a distance of 57.02 meters.
Also leading the way was Ollio who won the shot put with a distance of 15.53 meters and the discus with a distance of 45.19 meters and a fifth place finish in the hammer behind Reinhardt with a distance of 43 meters.
In the triple jump, junior Caleb Smithco won the event with a distance of 14.78 meters, in the pole vault, recording a win was junior Andrew Koksal with a clearance distance of 4.35 meters, sophomore Steven Girgash came close to his first victory, taking second in the high jump with a height of 1.85 meters. In the 4×100-meter relay, the rock group of Darby, Nieves, Okal, and Vanderbrook won the event with a time of 41.65, in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, freshman Jared Nelson placed second with a time of 9:59.29, in the 400-meter hurdles, Jacob VanHouten won the event with a time of 53.08 followed by Noah VanHouten with a time of 55.35, then Salter with a time of 55.46, and senior Logan Mooney with a time of 56.47.
In the 110-meter hurdles, Nieves came away with a victory at a time of 14.73, in the 800-meter run, senior Ryan Thompson won the event with a time of 1:53.36, in the 400-meter dash, Chandler placed fifth with a time of 49.58, in the 200-meter dash, Darby placed third, in the 100-meter dash, Vanderbrook placed third with a time of 10.88, followed by Darby at 11 seconds, then Nieves with a sixth place finish at 11.03, then Okal with a ninth place finish at 11.09, and sophomore Jeff Bailey in 10th place with a 11.09 time as well.
After the first two meets, Coach Papa said that “So far, I think that Dave Reinhardt is doing very well in the hammer throw, Jake VanHouten in the 400 hurdles, the men’s 4×100 relay and Ryan Thompson in the 800; however, several others will be making significant contributions as the season progresses.”
Some of the Rock team will go to Raleigh, North Carolina for the Raleigh Relays over the weekend while others will go to California, Pennsylvania for the California invitational on Saturday.
Papa said he “hopes to see some outstanding performances from those going to Raleigh Relays as well as those going to California, Pa to compete this weekend. The weather should be favorable at both places, so, we should see some PSAC and potentially some national qualifying performances.”