The seventh annual Gorilla Classic was held from Feb. 11. through Feb. 12. Throughout the two days, a total of nine school records were broken between the women’s and men’s teams.
“The meet was fantastic, probably one of the best meets Pitt State has ever hosted,” said Ben Barrows, Pitt State distance coach. “Just in terms of performances and high-level competition across the country. Mostly in the Midwest but we got a couple in California. From a program standpoint, we set records left and right and it was just a fantastic day for our athletes.”
Senior Christine Williams broke her own record in the 200 with a time of 24.07, giving her the fastest time in D2 this season. Freshman Hunter Jones jumped 7’1 in the high jump for the new school record. Freshman L.J Kiner triple jumped a length of 52 feet and 1.25 inches to claim the record. Sophomore Braylen Brewer ran a 46.59 for the new 400 school record, a 21.16 for the 200, and was also a part of the distance medley relay. Graduate student in business Bryce Grahn broke his own record in the 3,000 meters with a time of 8:05:66 and he was also a part of the distance medley relay. Sophomore Kate Dawson ran a 4:56:65 to create a new school record for 1600. The DMR included four athletes: Grahn ran 1200, Brewer ran the 400, senior Connor Suthrad ran the 800, and Mason Strader ran the final leg, the 1600.
“We ended up winning the DMR and it put us at number two in the nation and also number 2 in all D2 history. It was a big deal for our team. Our DMR was awesome to set the night off,” said Grahn.
Compared to past meets during the season, this was one of the largest, having athletes from South Dakota and California competing.
“Going into the race, I knew that there were going to be a lot of fast girls,” Dawson said. “During the race, I was getting passed and people were going by me. I knew in my head that, ‘I’m on pace, I’m good, I’m running, I’m running my race right now so once that last lap came around though I just gave it all I got. I stayed dialed in for the first four laps and didn’t beat myself up about getting passed because I was running my race.”
Along with the DMR, Grahn also broke his own school record for the 3,000 m.
“Our field wasn’t great, so we put pacers on,” Grahn said. “Mason Strader and Connor Suthard paced me through seven laps and I ran the last few by myself. There weren’t that many people in it, so that was our way to make it more competitive by putting pacers in (the race).”
The conference championship is now two weeks away, and the teams now must focus on competing for championships.
“It’s championship season now,” Barrows said. “For the most part, we are training this week and getting ready for the conference championship in two weeks and the national championship two weeks after that. Everything we have done up to this point has been to prepare ourselves for the conference and national meet, now it’s just fine-tuning the little things most of the work is done and now we just have to fine-tune and freshen up and be ready for the championship.”
Grahn has personal goals for himself, but also for the entire team as well.
“Our DMR is second in the nation and last year it won the national championships, so it would be awesome to go back and forth on that thing,” Grahn said. “But probably the highest priority is a team national championship. We have a chance to win as a whole team. Hopefully, I can get in the 3k and score some points for our team.”