The Pitt State women’s track and field team captured their fourth consecutive indoor conference title and the men placed second at the 2020 MIAA Indoor Track and Field Championships that took place from Friday, Feb. 28 to Sunday, March 1 in the Plaster Center.
The women compiled a total of 137 points to beat Missouri Southern by 7.5 points, while the Gorilla men took second place with 116 points, coming in behind Miss Southern who captured the men’s conference title with 142 points.
Head coach Russ Jewett was proud of both teams for their competitive effort.
“…It was obviously exciting to win,” Jewett said. “Our women did a fantastic job of believing right down to the wire because it didn’t look very good after the 12-200 meters… You’ve only got a couple of events left and you’re down quite a bit still. So, I was really proud of the women for really believing all the way through… I was proud of our men too. Our men did just about everything we could and Missouri Southern’s just a better team all around this year, indoors, no doubt about it. They had a better team, they prepared them well, recruited, developed, prepared (and we) couldn’t beat them.”
On the women’s team, junior Rhema Taylor won the 600-yard dash and senior Piper Misse won the 3,000 meters. Sophomore Christine Williams finished fourth in the mile rule. Junior McKenzie Penne placed sixth in the 60-meter hurdles. Junior Asia Anderson won sixth place in the triple jump. Freshman Camryn Williams placed sixth in the shot put and redshirt senior Brianna Cooks placed seventh. Junior Kari Blattner finished seventh in the 800-meters and sophomore Camilla Roy finished eighth. Freshman London Futch placed eight in the 400-meters. The 4×400 meter relay team consisting of sophomore Trace Mosby, junior Emerson Tice, Blattner and Taylor came in fifth place.
“…So, on the women’s side, we had numerous winners of events and in our conference that’s really, really big, I think. So, no particular order, Bri Cooks (in the) weight throw…, she had to come from behind… So, to come from behind and clutch, (she) did great (and it was) almost… her lifetime best. Haven Lander did have an indoor lifetime best in a new school record to win the pole vault over the young lady who’s a national champion herself from Missouri Southern. So, that was a great battle between those two and Haven came out on top (so) that was awesome. Asia Anderson’s victory in the long jump was big. I’d say Rhema Taylor might’ve had the biggest surprise victory in the 600 yards… Due to a personal tragedy and then also an injury.., she didn’t race the two weekends prior to the conference championship but won the 600 yard dash in a new school record. So, she was just amazing this weekend. Trace Mosby (had) a victory in the pentathlon to kick things off for us, that was awesome. Some other very notable (performances)… that didn’t (break) school records or anything, but still (won) first, Piper Misse winning both the 5k and a 3k against some really tough competition. So, she gave us a big boost at the end of day one and a huge boost with two of her teammates going into the mile relay, giving us a chance by winning the 3k and then two of the teammates scoring when they weren’t really slated to score. So, anyway Piper was huge this weekend as a leader as well. I would also mention Christine Williams who came on like gangbusters the last couple of weeks of the year. We’re one of the toughest sprint conferences in the country and she came up with big points in the 60 and the 200 and had a school record in the 200 meters… So, those are all huge. School records at the conference championship, we already had pretty strong school records, but Lander and Christine and Rhema all had school records in their events. It was just awesome.”
On the men’s team, senior Louis Rollins won the 60-meter hurdles. Sophomore Jared Becker finished third in the discipline and freshman Raymond Brass finished fourth. Junior Connor Southard placed second in the mile run and freshman Mason Strader placed fourth. Sophomore Konner Swenson placed third in the shot put. Sophomore Cameron Wright placed third in the pole vault and freshman Cameron Johnson placed sixth. Junior Colin Webber finished fifth in the 800-meters and junior Donte Howard placed seventh. Junior Bryce Grahn placed fourth in the 3,000 meters. Sophomore Matt Wilson placed sixth in the 600-yard dash and freshman Graham Hudelson placed eighth. Freshman Devon Richardson placed eighth in the triple jump. The 4x400m relay of sophomore Nizar Alarahshun, senior Jared Page, redshirt freshman Matthew Morris and freshman Bailey Stone finished fifth.
“On the guy’s side, had not as many wins, victories, but we had some really outstanding performances. We did have a couple of folks win events. Our freshman Devon Richardson in the high jump with a new school record… He won the high jump, awesome competing from him and Louis Rollins, our senior hurdler, got first in the hurdles. (It) wasn’t a school record but it was up there. I would note that we did have other school records. We had two guys actually run faster than the mile school record, of course only one of them gets it (and) that’s Connor Southard. He was second place in a very tough mile and broke our school record. Mason Strader was right behind him and was under the old school record too. I would single out Bryce Grahn. He didn’t win anything, but he ran the toughest triple of the meet. He ran the 5k on Saturday evening and he ran the mile on Sunday afternoon and a little over two hours later he ran the 3k and scored in all three of those. Only one other guy did that and he’s a stud runner from Missouri Southern. So, I’m really proud of Bryce too and lots of other guys that had lifetime bests. It was really a great conference weekend for us and bringing home that trophy for (the) women was certainly (the) icing on the cake.”
Next up for the Gorillas is the NCAA Division II Indoor National Championships in Birmingham, Alabama from Friday, March 13 until Saturday, March 14.
“Well, we need to find out who actually qualifies which we’ll find out tomorrow afternoon. We have a good idea. But we’re not like the frontrunner by any means. There are three schools in our conference, I think, ranked higher than we are on both genders, maybe four on the men’s side. We’ve got a very, very tough conference. But we do obviously want to represent Pitt State very well at the national championships. We first need to turn the page on this part of the season and get this conference championship emotion behind us. Once we get the accepted entries, we’ll evaluate. We always want to be on the podium but certainly we always aspire to be in the top 10 at the national level. That’s gonna be very hard for both genders, I think, maybe even harder for the men… That’s what we typically shoot for, our mission, to be in the top 10 at the national championships every time. So, hopefully we can have that as a realistic goal.”
Pittsburg State had eight men and seven women qualify for the NCAA Championships. On the men’s team, Rollins is ranked third in the 60-meter hurdles, Richardson qualified fourth in the high jump and 16th in the triple jump, Wright qualified seventh in the pole vault, Swenson qualified seventh in the shot put, senior Levi Wyrick qualifier eighth in the weight throw, junior Trey Mooney qualified ninth in the heptathlon, Johnson qualified 13th in the pole vault, and Southard qualified 16th in the mile run.
From the women’s team, Mosby is ranked first in the pentathlon, Lander is ranked fourth in the pole vault, Cooks qualified 13th in the 200-meters, sophomore Megan Eckman qualified in a tie for 14th in the high jump, Anderson qualified for 14th in the long jump, and junior Kinsey Laird qualified 16th in the pole vault.