The men’s track and field team travelled to Emporia to compete in the ESU Relays from Friday, Mar. 26 through Saturday, Mar. 27.
“Well, they did fairly well,” said Head Coach Russ Jewett. “…We had some bright spots.”
Brett Thompson, a master’s student in educational leadership, also thought the team performed well.
“I think the team had a pretty strong opener for the outdoor season considering we haven’t had an outdoor meet in two years,” Thompson said. “We have a lot of talent, we just need to keep improving each and every week.”
Thompson won the javelin throw with an automatic qualifying mark to the 021 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field National Championships. Additionally, it was the second best mark in PSU history
“Winning the javelin throw and hitting that automatic qualifying mark was an incredible feeling,” Thompson said. “It’s something I’ve been working toward for quite some time and to finally accomplish it felt great.”
Jerod Toogood finished second in the discipline and Joshua Hudiburg place third. Both picked up NCAA qualifying marks as well. Konner Swenson gathered qualifying marks in the shot put and the hammer throw. Levi Wyrick picked up a PQ mark in the hammer throw. Kennedy Nwaneri placed second in the triple jump, Mason Strader placed fourth in the 800 meters, and Bryce Grahn raced to fourth place in the 1,500 meters.
“…I would mention Kevin Wright-Rose had a nice hundred meters,” Jewett said. “…Kennedy Nwaneri had a nice triple jump. (It was a) lifetime PR (and he) finished second. I think… the highlight of the meet, again, was Brett Thompson… Brett Thompson threw a lifetime best auto qualifier. 237 feet, nine inches, that’s the second farthest throw ever in Pitt State history. So, he’s really on top of it right now. Konner Swenson threw a little farther in the shot, that’s good. It was a good outing but… we need the running events to start coming around a little bit. We had some pretty good field events there and one good sprint there. We had some distance and middle-distance runners do well… Anyways, it was a good, more of a full start to the outdoor season. We’re looking forward to just building momentum right down the road.”
Some of the same competitors stood out to Thompson.
“…Jerod Toogood and Josh Hudiburg both had really good marks in the javelin this past meet,” Thompson said. “They are both in the top… (ten) in the nation for NCAA Division II track and field, and they will continue to improve. Levi Wyrick and Konnor Swenson both have good marks in the hammer and shot put, as well.”
After the prior outdoor season was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, Thompson was happy to be able to compete again but is especially thankful for the other members of the team as well as the coaching staff.
“I would like to thank my teammates from previous years and this year for pushing me to become the athlete I am today,” Thompson said. “I would also like to thank Coach Mantooth for all he’s done to help me improve and get to the point I am at today.”
The Gorillas will travel to Bolivar, Mo. to compete in the SBU Bearcat Invitational on Friday, April 2 and Saturday, April 3.
“…Just to build more momentum,” Jewett said. “We’ve got some improvements to make… Keep it moving toward the important stuff at the end of the year. And then a little more of a team effort I think is what we need, and we’ll look forward to getting that.”