Curtis Meyer, Reporter
As finals week approached last semester, Pitt State Track and Field students had more than just their studying to prepare for. The track season kicked off on Dec. 9 and 10 of 2022 with the Boo Rogers Invitational and Crimson and Gold Classics, both held at the Robert W. Plaster Center on campus.
Several Gorilla track and field athletes broke school records in different events at both competitions, setting a great tone to start the 2023 track and field season. The Gorillas were favorites in the preseason MIAA coaches’ polls in both men’s and women’s, with both projected to be on top of the MIAA conference.
“I am very confident in the team this year, coach has recruited a lot of people on the men’s and the women’s side, so all year I’ve just been thinking and saying how excited I am for this year, I can see us making it and possibly winning it at those big meets, so I think that the team on both men’s and women’s side will do good this year,” said Sky Hagan, who is a hurdler on the women’s team. Hagan also participates in the 4 by 4 relay and was talking about being in the 200 and 300 races later in the season.
The Gorilla’s lived up to the preseason hype, starting with Mattie Flanagan placing second overall in the Pentathlon at the Boo Rogers Combined Events on December 9. With an overall score of 3,736 in the 60m hurdles, high jumps, shot put, long jumps, and 800-meter race, she was 400 points higher than her previous record.
Men’s competitor Hunter Jones placed fifth overall in the Pentathlon, with an overall score of 2,997. Jones was the outright winner of the High Jump for the men’s divison.
Pitt State was able to carry the momentum into the next day’s events with the Crimson and Gold Invitational, with a historic day.
Starting with the women, Auna Childress broke the school triple jump record with a jump of 41 feet, 7 inches, also setting a new record for the Crimson and Gold meet. The last record stood at 40 feet, five inches and was set by Amira Jenkins back in 2016.
The men were not to be outdone, with T. J. Caldwell getting the individual victory in the 60-meter hurdles. He matched the Pitt State record of 7.83 seconds, which was set by Jeremy Jackson in 2010. This remains the fastest time in the NCAA Division II this season.
“For me, my main focus is just being better than I was last year, for the team I think it’s going all the way. Especially for our guys, they don’t want to win it and go back and just be close to winning it, they want to stay in it. To see our guys win it, we want to win it because we saw them do it last year. I feel like the girls are for sure striving to do the same thing,” said Hagan.
Other competitors for Pitt State had success, with Erica Schamel and Allay Liberatore placing first and second in the high jump, while Lara Murdock won the 5,000-meter race with a time of 16:53:31, a new personal best. Kyla Davis also placed first in the pole vault for women’s.
The men’s 4×400 relay, consisting of Bailey Stone, Sam Tudor, Nizar Alahruhshun, and Dre’shaun Sanders placed first, with the third fastest Division II time this season.
Pitt State will continue it’s season on Jan. 20., at home with the Rumble in the Jungle Invitational.