Sights set on postseason
Michael Bauer | reporter
In their final warmup before the conference championship meet, the Pittsburg State track and field teams competed on Sunday, April 27, at the Missouri Southern State Bill Williams/Bob Laptad invitational in Joplin, Mo.
While the conditions may not have been so favorable, the Gorillas came away with three individual wins on the men’s side while the women had two.
“I thought we got through it, nobody got hurt the weekend before conference,” said Russ Jewett, head coach. “We had a few bright spots.”
Pittsburg State came in second in the javelin, with Derek Base’s throw of 170 feet, 4 inches.
Justin Ballock was also runner-up in the 400-meter hurdles, with a time of 54.97. The 400-meter relay team of Jason Crow, Keenan Soles, Greg Wright and Kyle Utsey placed second.
The 400-meter relay team came up short to Missouri Southern State by .0001 second to finish as runner-up.
In the field events, Cody Holland took third in the shot put with a toss of 52 feet, 4.5 inches.
“Cody Holland showed good slings in the shot put,” Jewett said.
John Talbert was the victor in the discus with a toss of 174 feet, 8 inches. He also took second in the hammer.
Garrett Cantrell was first in the javelin with a throw of 185 feet, 7 inches, while James Carter III was also first in the 400-meter with a time of 49.94.
With the conference championships next week, Jewett says it is tough to compete well the week before: Avoiding injury is extra crucial for each player.
“It’s tough to psychologically get excited to race before conference,” Jewett said. “But we kept everybody healthy. We improved a little bit.”
Anthony Hobbs was third in the high jump, as was Jeff Piepenbrink in the pole vault. Holland finished third in the shot put and Will Livingston was also third in the 100-meter dash.
On the women’s side, Shanise Rice took first in the javelin with a throw of 128 feet, 5 in
ches, while the 1,600-meter relay team of Emily Ballock, Lauren Ouderkirk, Hilary Dickey and Ramie Grayson placed first with a time of 3:51.38.
Aime Orton took second in the javelin, and behind her was Amber Kloster. Larissa Richards took second place in the hammer throw and shot put. Sarah Talbert and Randi Pierce were second in the discus and high jumps, respectively.
The Gorilla track teams were originally supposed to compete at the Drake Invitational the day before going to Joplin.
But because MSSU rescheduled the meet a day earlier, Pittsburg State decided to forego the Drake Invitational.
The last-second scheduling did not force any major changes to the track squad, Jewett says.
“No matter what the year, the weekend before conference is the weekend to get ready for the conference meet,” Jewett said.
Now, turning their attention to the MIAA championships in Hays, the Gorillas are going to face some stiff competition from both sides. The women will have to watch out for what could be a powerful Lincoln University squad.
“On the women’s side, nobody’s going to beat Lincoln,” Jewett said. “Unless they just don’t show up, literally. It’s a matter where everybody is competing for second. I think we can compete for a runner-up spot. I think our women’s team is in position to do that.
The Gorilla men are the defending conference champions but should face a battle from five other schools.
“It’s going to be a dog fight. There are four teams, maybe five that have a chance to win it,” Jewett said. “We have the target on our backs and so does Missouri Southern and Central Missouri.
Jewett says MSSU also improved tremendously over the weekend and should be added to the mix as contenders.
“They’ve got a beloved head coach who is retiring after this season so that emotion might help them win the conference championship,” Jewett said.
The meet will take place Friday, May 3, through Sunday.