Track qualifies 4 for nationals in season-opener

Written By Robert Berger, Co-Sports Editor

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In the first event of the 2017 outdoor track and field season, junior distance runner Katie Guarnaccia earned a spot at the outdoor track and field national championship meet in the 10,000 meter on a frigid Saturday afternoon.

“With us being a third-year program, having this many qualifiers early on really shows a lot from our coaches and also what we can do with the lack of facilities,” junior sprinter and captain Aaron Barlow said.

The Pioneers traveled to New Concord, Ohio Saturday for the Muskingum Muskie Duals at Muskingum University after their originally scheduled meet at Juniata was canceled due to weather.

Competing against six others, Guarnaccia kicked the day off by finishing the women’s 10,000 with a time of 37 minutes, 40 seconds. With a finish 42 seconds ahead of the second place finisher, Guarnaccia secured a spot at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national championship in Gulf Shores, Ala. May 25-27. She also set the stadium record in the event by four minutes.

Guarnaccia is in her third year with the Point Park track and field team and has now qualified for nationals seven times. She finished the indoor season with a qualification in the 5,000 and in the distance medley relay.

Later in the day, sophomore runner Anna Shields set a new school record in the women’s 800 with a final time of 2 minutes, 13 seconds. Against 21 runners, she finished first in the event, 11 seconds ahead of competition, good enough to earn a spot in the NAIA outdoor national championship.

“Shields is truly a special athlete, and I know she will do amazing things,” head coach Kelly Parsley said earlier this year after adding Shields to the team.

Still in her rookie year as a Pioneer, Shields qualified for the indoor national championship meet in six events. She finished second in the NAIA in the mile and the 1,000 meter at the national championship meet last month.

Also on the track, junior sprinter Jahniah McAllister placed first in the women’s 100-meter hurdles event finishing in 17.21 seconds. She also competed in the 100 meters and 200 meter where she finished second and third respectively.

On the field for the Pioneer women, freshman thrower Mackenzie Mangum finished first out of six in the javelin. On her second throw of 33.97 meters, Mangum won the event and set a new school record.

Also coming away with a Pioneer field victory was Kiana Daley with a 34.70-meter discus throw.

The Point Park women ended the day with a total of  five event wins.

On the men’s side, it was Jryi Davis and Tyler Carter setting the tone, both reaching the national qualifying mark in the triple jump. Davis’s leap of 14.50 meters was good enough to set a new Point Park record as well.

“Every meet that I go to, I try and qualify in my event, so doing it today took so much stress away from the rest of the season,” Davis said.

In the triple jump, Point Park held the first six placements with sophomore distance runner Andre Lowery, freshman jumper and thrower Chance Callahan, sophomore jumper Michael Morris and senior sprinter Eric Biggs finishing in that respective order after Carter.

“It’s always amazing to compete against Carter,” Davis said. “It’s a friendly competition every time between us and it’s a lot of fun.”

Biggs also won the men’s 100 with his time of 11.66 seconds.

Also taking a win on the track was the men’s 4×100 relay team. The team of Barlow, Biggs, sophomore sprinter Tory Doby and sophomore sprinter Tyrone Robinson finished in 44.55 seconds, 0.53 seconds ahead of second-place finisher from St. Vincent College.

It was Barlow’s first time competing in an outdoor event as a Pioneer. The captain placed second in the 1oo with his time of 11.69 seconds. Barlow also competed in the 200, where he placed third in 23.63 seconds.

“Despite the weather, it feels really good to be out here,” Barlow said. “I placed well in each event, so I can’t complain on how it’s gone.”

Also leaving Ohio with a win on the track was sophomore distance runner Sean Hilverding. He finished the 5,000 in 16 minutes, 1 second. Also competing in the 5k was sophomore distance runner Nick Kasisky who topped his personal record by 38 seconds.

In the final track event, the Pioneer men’s 4×400 relay team finished in 3 minutes, 32.29 seconds to a second placement.

Chance Callahan won the shot put with an 11.27 meter toss to give the Pioneer men five event wins on the day.

“This was a great start for us,” Parsley said to his team following the meet. “I know the sprinters aren’t happy with their times, but there’s nothing we can do about conditions… everybody did a great job today.”

The men’s and women’s track and field teams will compete this weekend at California University of Pennsylvania at the Vulcan Invitational.

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