The men’s track and field team competed in the 6th Annual Indoor Gorilla Classic on Friday, Feb. 12 and Saturday, Feb. 13.
Mason Strader finished second in the mile run and broke the standing school record. Connar Southard placed third in the mile and surpassed his former mark. Bryce Grahn raced to a fourth-place finish and surpassed the old record as well.
Matthew Wilson broke the school record with his second-place finish in the 800-meters with a qualifying mark.
In other action, Cameron Wright won the pole vault and Raymond Brass won the 60-meter hurdles. Additionally, Grahn won the 3,000 meters. Tevin Wright-Rose placed second in the 60-meter hurdles. Kennedy Nwaneri placed second in the triple jump and Sam Thimmesch placed second in the shot put. Cole Sample came in third in the shot put and Cameron Johnson placed third in the pole vault. The 4x400m relay of Nizar Alarahshun, Graham Hudelson, Bailey Stone and Matthew Morris finished in third place.
“…That men’s DRM on Friday night broke the school record,” Head Coach Russ Jewett said. “…Mason Strader led it off, Graham Hudelson ran the 400, then Matthew Wilson ran the 800, and then Connar Southard was the mile anchor… I would say (on) Saturday, a couple of those guys that were on that relay had some outstanding performances as well. Matt Wilson did not win the 800 but he did break our school record… That gets him on the list, pretty much on the bubble to qualify as we say. He was ranked 12th after the weekend was over… Maybe the highlight of the day was the mile race for the men. Mason Strader… broke school record.., that’s a strong provisional qualifier. Connar Southard was right behind him, which would’ve been the school record, which was his originally… Not very far behind them was Bryce Grahn… So that was probably the highlight event of the day. I would say, also, Raymond Brass had a breakthrough in the hurdles… for a strong provisional qualifying mark and he won that so that was excellent. (We) had some other good performances as well. It was a really good weekend for both teams.”
Mason Strader, sophomore in architectural manufacturing management and technology, thought that both the men’s team and the women’s team competed well in the competition.
“There were several great performances all across the board, both… (teams) arrived focused and determined to run,” Strader said. “It always helps running on our home track.”
Strader was among several athletes that broke school records.
“Pitt State had several National Qualifying marks throughout the weekend and a few school records were taken down off the board,” Strader said. “Being a part of two of them (DMR and mile) made for a special weekend. Breaking the DMR… record was a blast. Running the event with the same teammates I practice (with) every single day with was extra rewarding, along with the record (and) posting a strong mark for the national meet makes the future exciting for the team’s potential trip to Birmingham, Alabama (for the NCCA DII Indoor Championships).”
The Gorillas have a week to prepare for the MIAA Indoor Championship which will take place in Topeka on Saturday, Feb. 27 and Sunday, Feb. 28.
“Well, we’re still assessing where we are. We’d like to think our teams always have a chance to win a conference championship and right now, we’re kind of assessing the other teams in detail and try to figure out what we’re gonna do with our entries. I think we feel that we do have a chance to win and there’s more than just one or two other teams that have a chance to win… So, it’s always a lot of fun and we expect this to be no less fun and no less exciting. You never know, it could come down to a 4×400 like it has several times in the last few years. That’s the last event of the championship. So, either way our guys and gals will be as prepared as possible and represent Pitt State the best we can.”
Strader is looking forward to the conference championships.
“Our eyes are now set on winning the MIAA Championship,” Strader said. “The athletes’ workout and train for great opportunities like these, competing for the shot at a team title will be intense and demanding. The MIAA is a very strong conference with several teams in the hunt to take the crown. It will take some special performances from several Gorillas, but I trust that we will be in the fight to end the meet on top.”
Being able to have a season took a lot of work because of the concerns with COIVD-19.
“I would like to thank the Pitt State Athletic Director Jim Johnson, President Scott, Coach Jewett and the Pitt State Coaching/Training Staff, and everyone else who has contributed for Pitt State to have this indoor season and giving the athletes the ability to compete,” Strader said.