Davis jumps to NAIA bid

Written By Robert Berger, Co-Sports Editor

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The men’s and women’s indoor track and field team spent this past weekend in Geneva, Ohio qualifying more athletes to the national championship.

“This is probably the best the team has ever come back and I really only see everybody getting better,” sophomore runner Sean Hilverding said.

The Pioneers began the day in the women’s 4,000 meter distance medley relay. Juniors Katie Guarnaccia and Olukemi Olugbakinro and sophomores Taylor Celich and Anna Shields represented the Pioneers. The team finished in 12 minutes, 12 seconds, placing second out of 14 teams, and securing a spot at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national championship meet in Johnson City, Tenn. March 2-4.

“The four of us really wanted to qualify and thought it would be amazing to run the event at nationals together,” Celich said. “It’s especially amazing for Olukemi and I, because this is our first time qualifying.”

Represented by sophomores Andre Bennett, Bryan Partika, Desmond Marrow and freshman Xavier Stephens, the Pioneers won the men’s 800 meter relay. The quartet finished with a time of 8 minutes, .09 seconds, just short of a national championship qualifying time. The team is still ranked ninth in the NAIA.

Also on the track, junior Hilverding set a school record in the men’s 5,000 meter, finishing in 15 minutes, 34 seconds. Hilverding placed 11th overall and is now ranked eighth in the NAIA.

In the women’s 3,000 meter, Shields and Guarnaccia placed fourth and 22nd respectively out of 39 runners. Shields finished with a time of 9 minutes, 58 seconds which placed her second in the NAIA rankings. Guarnaccia finished with a time of 10 minutes, 41 seconds.

Shields also competed in the women’s mile where she finished in 4 minutes, 52 seconds. This time placed Shields in the No. 1 spot in the NAIA. She qualified for the national championship mile event at the Pioneers previous meet at Youngstown State. Shields has qualified for nationals six times now.

“Shields is amazing and is one of the top in the NAIA,” said junior Jryi Davis. “Overall, our team is really well-rounded now. Everyone is a fantastic athlete.”

Davis qualified for the national championship in the triple jump. He leaped 14.29 meters, a personal best. The leap also placed Davis first at SPIRE and secured him his second national qualification in two years.

“After (the YSU meet), I told myself I have the capability to qualify,” Davis said. “I had a lot of support from the team since it was the last event it helped motivate me to be better.”

Also scoring a personal best on the field was sophomore Andre Lowery in the long jump. Lowery jumped 6.56 meters, good for sixth overall at the meet. Freshman Chance Callahan also threw a personal best in the shot put, throwing 10.98 meters. This beat his own previous school record in the event.

The Pioneers next will travel back to Youngstown State this weekend for the National Mid-Major Duals. They will compete the following day at the Mt. Union Jim Wuske Invitational.

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