Champions times two

Men’s and women’s indoor track teams capture inaugural titles

Photo by Submitted | River States Conference

Written By Dara Collins, Co-Sports Editor

The men’s and women’s track and field teams left Tiffin University’s Heminger Center last Friday with the first ever River States Conference (RSC) Indoor Track and Field Championship trophies.

Head coach Kelly Parsley coached the teams to victory, and he achieved two victories for himself: RSC Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Coach of the Year.

“I’m honored,” Parsley said. “This is the sixth time that I’ve won Coach of the Year in the four years that I’ve been here…and it’s nice to see that everyone notices the hard work.”

The men’s squad racked up 188 points, claimed 19 all-conference honors and won six events.

“At first we had a game plan,” senior Shaun Berry said. “We were there to do what we needed to do and win as many events as we could. When we made it there, we realized that they didn’t have too many people, and we had a chance to actually sweep them in some events. So we kind of divided and conquered.”

The meet began with the 4×800 relay when the team of Elijah Diallo, Chris Hunt, Desmond Marrow and Andre Bennett took home gold. Sophomore Xavier Stephens won the mile and 800 meters on his way to earning the RSC Most Outstanding Men’s Indoor Track Athlete award.

The three remaining event victories came from the field, specifically from the jumpers. The Pioneers captured the top five spots for the long jump and triple jump.

Berry was named the RSC Most Outstanding Men’s Indoor Field Athlete after his first-place performance in the long jump, second in the triple jump and third in the high jump. Senior Jryi Davis won the triple jump, and junior Michael Morris won the high jump.

“The jumpers succeeded because we kind of have an inner team rivalry, so we try our best to push each other to reach that next level no matter how many people are in the event,” Berry said.

Junior Andre Lowery and sophomore Chance Callahan also placed as all-conference jumpers.

“If you look at our stats from last year to this year, you can see they dramatically increased,” Berry said. “[Coach Richard Rouse] has been giving us hard workouts and none of us really like them, but they work.”

Junior Tyrone Robinson matched his school record of 4.25 meters in the pole vault to place second at the meet and add another all-conference honor to Point Park’s list.

Back on the track, Point Park tallied points from multiple events. Senior Aaron Barlow placed third in the 400 meters, and Marrow followed just behind in fourth. Bennett was the sole Pioneer in the 600 meters to earn All-RSC honors in second place. Stephens placed first in the 800 meters with Dannys Marrero in fourth and Marrow fifth.

Bennett finished in second place while Connor Wright finished in third and Hunt in fourth in the 1,000 meters. Stephens again placed first in the mile with sophomore Marrero close behind in third place and junior Wright in fourth. Sophomore Eric Torres scored points in the 3,000 meters, and junior Sean Hilverding added his own points with a second-place finish to earn all-conference honors.

Point Park’s lone hurdler to earn all-conference, junior Bryan Partika, placed third in the 60-meter hurdles.

“I think the big thing is we all stepped up, especially in the mid distance events because indoor track is all about the mid distance…and that’s why we were able to win by the margin that we did,” Partika said. “Our other strengths probably were our distance really showed out, like in the 3,000 meters we really took away points from other schools, especially Rio Grande. We did really good in the jumps…so we really stood out in those events, and I expect to do that for outdoor too.”

As for the women, an incredible 67 points stood between first place Point Park with 206 and second place Ohio Christian with 139.

The women’s team claimed 22 all-conference honors and won ten events, eight of which came from the track.

Junior Anna Shields headlined the women’s roster with four individual events wins in the mile, 600 meters, 1,000 meters and 3,000 meters. Shields’ performance earned her title as RSC Most Outstanding Women’s Indoor Track Athlete.

Freshman Reba Bartram stood tall on the podium after placing first in the 400 meters and 800 meters, and the 4×400 and 4×800 relay teams added two more first place victories to the Pioneers’ list.

From the field, freshmen Ana Benitez and Jasmine Wicks flaunted gold medals in the triple jump and shot put respectively. Benitez also placed third in the long jump and was named RSC Most Outstanding Women’s Indoor Field Athlete.

Point Park stole the top three spots on the podium in the mile, and the Pioneers stood on two of three top spots for three track events and one field event.

The 400 meters had Bartram in first and senior Olukemi Olugbakinro in third, the 800 meters had Bartram in first and junior Taylor Celich in third, the 1,000 meters had Shields in first and freshman Alyssa Boyd in third and the triple jump had Benitez in first and freshman Miranda Schry in second.

Juniors Kara Rohlf and Lauren Bower, senior Kiana Daley and the Pioneers’ distance medley team also earned All-RSC accolades.

Point Park recorded three new school records with Benitez jumping 5.07 meters in the triple jump, Daley throwing 11.16 meters in the weight throw and the 4×800 relay running a time of 10 minutes, 20 seconds.

Parsley commended the highly-noted athletes of his squads as well as the “unsung heroes” and looks forward to adding more Pioneers to his current list of ten national qualifiers.

“As we keep doing as best as we can in practices and performing well, I think everyone’s going to keep progressing because we’re all at a good point, but I think everyone can be better,” Bartram said.

The Pioneers have one more chance to qualify for the NAIA Indoor Track and Field Championship at the Kent State Tune Up this Saturday.