The Pitt State track and field teams travelled to Joplin to compete in the Missouri Southern State University Open competition on Friday, Feb. 7 and Saturday, Feb. 8.
Head coach Russ Jewett believes the team did fairly well over the weekend.
“I think we did fine,” Jewett said. “We compete at home quite a bit so travelling is something that we like to do. Obviously, it’s a different atmosphere and you deal with different challenges when you travel… Anyway, overall (we) had some good performances in the field events, a few good performances in terms of competitive efforts on the track. (They have a) smaller track over there so anything that’s in an oval, anytime you gotta run around turns that are tighter, your times are gonna be a little slower than if you were on a bigger track like ours. But (we) did okay, I think.”
The men’s team recorded four individual victories. Freshman Devon Richardson won the triple jump, senior Louis Rollins won the 60-meter hurdles, sophomore Matt Wilson won the 600 meters, and junior Connor Southard won the 800 meters. In addition to these victories, sophomore Konner Swenson placed second in the shot put, freshman Cameron Johnson finished fourth in the pole vault, freshman Bailey Stone finished second in the 400 meters, freshman Graham Hudelson placed second in the 600 meters, sophomore Nizar Alarahshun placed third in the 400 meters, and the 4×400 relay team consisting of Stone, Alarahshun, junior Colin Webber, and senior Jared Page placed second.
“On the men’s side, we had a couple of victories I guess, not with great times or anything,” Jewett said. “But Connor Southard had a nice little race in the 800 to win and not a fast time but he accomplished what he needed to tactically and then Louis Rollins won the 60 hurdles. No big surprise there, he’s consistently performing well. He’s only had a couple of meets so far. Christian Carter continues to get better for us as a long jumper… Probably one the best field event performances we had was Devon Richardson. (He) won the triple jump (with a score of) 49 feet. That’s a lifetime best for him in his first outing for us. So, really outstanding competitive effort…”
On the women’s team, there were five victories. Freshman Allary Liberatore won the triple jump, senior Cassidy Westhoff won the mile, junior Kari Blattner won the 600 meters, junior Halle Helfrich won the 800 meters, and the 4×400 relay team of sophomore Madison Burt, junior Rhema Taylor, junior Emerson Tice, and Blattner won 4×400. In addition to these victories, redshirt senior Brianna Cooks placed second in the shot put, junior Haven Lander placed second in the pole vault, sophomore Cami Roy finished third in the 800 meters, freshman Analya Miller placed fourth in the 60 meter hurdles, and junior Kinsey Laird placed sixth in the pole vault.
“On the ladies’ side, we had a few… victories over there,” Jewett said. “It was a small meet but Southern is a formidable foe themselves. So, we had victories. Kari Blattner in the 600 (meters), that was a nice win for her and a PR for her. Halle Helfrich (showed a) nice competitive effort to win the 800. Not a tremendously strong 800 but she did a great job. We had some personal bests in the hurdles for Analya Miller and Nakiya Marshall. (We are) getting better in the 4×400… We won that thing over there. Again, not a blazing fast time but very good competitive effort. We had some good field events… Bri Cooks won the weight throw (with a) season best performance and Allary Liberatore, she’s a freshman triple jumper, won the triple jump with a lifetime best. Trace Mosby had a PR in the long jump to win it. Kinsey Laird had a nice pole vault, didn’t win but had a PR. (It was a) real nice jump for her. So, those are the performances I would highlight from this past weekend…”
The track and field teams next competition is the fifth Annual Indoor Gorilla Classic from Friday, Feb. 14 to Saturday, Feb. 15.
“Well, that next competition is a home meet this… Friday and Saturday, the fifth annual Gorilla Classic,” Jewett said. “It’s the time of the season where we’re getting closer to the championship week, just a couple weeks away from that, and it’s time for us to really put the finishing touches on our fitness and our competitive ability. So, (we are) sharpening up a little bit. Some folks will compete a lot this weekend over the two-day competition. That’s another challenge we will have at conference with our key people, some of them will compete a lot over the course of two or even three days at conference. So, we’re using this weekend to sort of get them ready for that mentally and physically in a specific way. It’s not a scored meet but we’re trying to achieve national qualifying marks always. So, with the folks that have the capacity to do that we’re really homing in on that. The competition this weekend will be outstanding with quite a few Division I level schools coming and lots of good Division II… So, lots of great competition this weekend so we’ll have that to help us to perform well.”