Over the weekend, the Slippery Rock University men’s track team competed in the Ashland Open, the final regular season meet before the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) championships that begin this Thursday.
The meet was met with a storm delays that caused some of the events, such as the jumping events, to be canceled for the meet.
“It wasn’t the greatest event for us because of the weather, but the purpose of the event was for a tune-up, so everyone should be ready for the championships,” Rock head coach John Papa said. Nevertheless, the event did not go without some strong performances by The Rock, including 16 PSAC qualifying marks and four NCAA provisional marks.
In the 1500-meter run, sophomore Josh Rader ran a time of 4:03.62 seconds for fourth place, followed by freshman Daniel Jansyka with a time of 4:04.15. In the 110-meter hurdles, freshman Ian Nieves ran a time of 14.77 for third place. In the 400-meter hurdles, senior Jacob VanHouten won the events with a time of 53.25, an NCAA provisional mark, followed by senior Logan Mooney in sixth place with a time of 55.94, then senior Zac Patton in eighth place with a time of 57.01 and finally in 11th place, freshman Gunner Coleman with a time of 57.41. In the 4×100-meter relay, the team consisted of sophomore Collin Darby, Nieves, sophomore Jeff Bailey and senior Brandon Vanderbrook. The team reached an NCAA provisional mark with a second-place finish at a time of 41.07.
In the pole vault, The Rock’s best event heading into the PSAC championships, leading the way for The Rock was junior Andrew Koksal in fourth place with a clearance distance of 4.87 meters, an NCAA professional mark. Koksal was followed by junior Jordan Pacheco in seventh place with a clearance distance of 4.67 meters, then in 11th place was senior Mike Horrigan, and rounding out the vaulters was sophomore David Duffey in 18th place with a clearance distance of 4.22 meters.
Papa said “[The meet] went in the favor of the vaulters since they had consistently good weather because they were inside, so they were able to put up some good scores.”
In the shot put, senior JJ Ollio placed third with a distance of 15.91 meters. Ollio also placed fourth in the discus with a throw of 48.01 meters, followed by graduate student David Rinehart in sixth place with a throw of 46.43 meters. In the hammer throw, Reinhardt also placed fourth with a throw of 58.81 meters, an NCAA provisional mark, which was followed by Ollio in 16th place with a distance of 44.21 meters.
The Rock’s hunt for a PSAC outdoor championship begins this Thursday in Bloomsburg and will go on until Saturday. The Rock finished within two points of taking home the gold at the PSAC indoor championship, so the team will be looking to push over that threshold and end Shippensburg’s eight-year winning streak in the PSAC. Right now, The Rock is ranked within the top three of the conference, with Shippensburg at number one.
“Our men are not favored to win, but we’re in the hunt. We’re going to go there and give our best effort and if everyone performs well, we’ll be in the top three. But anything can happen,” Papa said. “Some of our athletes are ranked in the top three in their events, but we do have some that aren’t. If they show up and compete, however, they’ll be able to win us some points.”
The Rock will look to leaders such as David Reinhardt, Ryan Thompson, Collin Darby and Ian Nieves to lead the way for The Rock. The team will also receive significant support from their pole vaulters and jumpers. That being said, there will be no guarantees as the competition will be strong, and Shippensburg is not looking to hold back.
“Every event has its toughness, but the athletes are trained and prepared to compete in these events,” Papa said. “Our athletes do very well in the championships. This is our team event, we’ll go in there and give everything we have.”