Track and field teams land multiple wins, second NAIA qualifier


Photo by Robert Berger | Point Park Athletics

Junior Bryan Partika (Middle) hurdles at an outdoor meet last season. Partika placed second in the 400 mete hurdles with a time of 58.04 seconds this past weekend at the Bethany Invitational.

Written By Dara Collins, Co-Sports Editor

The men and women of Point Park’s track and field teams raced and leaped their way to six first-place victories last Saturday at the Bethany Invitational in West Virginia. A number of Pioneers finished with personal, school and facility records.

“We have athletes all across the board that have just really been stepping up,” head coach Kelly Parsley said.

The women tallied three of Point Park’s six event victories of the day.

Junior Anna Shields finished the indoor season with three top times in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). After the second meet of the outdoor season, Shields now holds three more national bests.

The track star finished first in the 1,500 meters with a time of 4 minutes, 21 seconds, a school and facility record. Shields shattered the facility record by 22 seconds and finished about a second faster than the previous school record. The time qualified her for nationals by nearly 15 seconds.

Shields claimed the 2017 NAIA outdoor national championship in the event and looks to defend her title this year. Similarly, Shields qualified for the 800 meters this past weekend by nine seconds and looks to better her second-place national finish from 2017.

Recording her second national best of the day, Shields won the 800 meters with a time of 2 minutes, 9 seconds, just shy of her school record but a facility record nonetheless.

“It felt good to be able to run my main events,” Shields said. “I’m also planning on doubling those events at nationals again, so it was good practice. There wasn’t that much break in between, so that’s kind of a confidence booster that I can come back for the [800 meters] without much rest because there will be more rest at nationals.”

Her other top NAIA time came at the Cal U Early Bird meet two weeks ago when she finished the 5,000 meters in 16 minutes, 28 seconds.

“I feel really good to have shown my range in the 5K,” Shields said. “I’m probably not going to run it again this season, but I’m happy to have laid down that PR early on.”

The 4×400 meter relay team registered the third win for the women. Before the season began, Shields expressed high hopes for the 4×400 relay team to excel this season. 

“The qualifying time is hard, but I think we have the potential to hit it or at least break our school record once we get all of our A team running…The good thing is that we have depth [in the 400 meters] and the availability of alternates,” Shields said.

After a first-place finish at the Cal U Early Bird Invitational, Point Park tacked on another first-place victory in the event with a time of 4 minutes, 7 seconds, nearly three seconds less than the first meet of the season. The team consisted of Shields, Lindsey Archibeque, Erica Hanserd and Reba Bartram.

A chunk of the team recorded new personal records. Bartram finished two places behind Shields in the 800 meters with a personal best of 2 minutes, 20 seconds. For the first time, junior Kara Rohlf broke 19 minutes in the 5K and finished at 18 minutes, 54 seconds, which earned her fourth place.

On the field, Ana Benitez finished third in the triple jump with a school record of 11.09 meters. Sophomore Mackenzie Mangum finished second with a javelin toss of 34.98 meters. The second outdoor meet of the season for Point Park was the first that included throwing events.

On the men’s side, the Pioneers claimed two victories in the field, one on the track and landed another national qualifier.

Senior jumper Jryi Davis earned a bid to his fifth NAIA national championship meet with a second-place, 14.31-meter finish in the triple jump. It is his second time qualifying for outdoor nationals. 

“It’s a great accomplishment,” Davis said. “I definitely wanted to qualify. It’s my last year of track, so I want to make it to nationals as many times as possible.”

The success stretched to the rest of the jumps squad as junior Michael Morris placed first in the high jump after clearing a school-record height of 1.98 meters, while junior Andre Lowery set a school record at 6.80 meters to win the long jump. Sophomore Chance Callahan finished behind Davis with a distance of 13.47 meters.

“There’s many people that can qualify [for nationals], and I’m excited to see what’s going to happen this year,” Davis said.

Sophomore Xavier Stephens won the 800 meters by almost two seconds with a time of 1 minute, 56.86 seconds.

The men’s 4×400 and 4×100 relay teams recorded second place finishes. The 4×400 team of Stephens, Brady Corklin, Malcolm Harris and Aaron Barlow finished in 3 minutes, 28 seconds. The 4×100 crew of Barlow, Harris, Aramis Wright and Tyrone Robinson finished with a time of 43.76 seconds, just shy of the school record.

Junior Bryan Partika hurdled to a second-place finish in the 400 meter hurdles, sophomore Eric Torres placed highest of the distance runners at third in the 5K and Robinson finished third in the pole vault.

“I’m pretty excited about where we are considering the conditions, but we’re running out of time,” Parsley said. “Outdoor season is pretty short…and unfortunately the weather really dictates how many kids can really qualify.”

Davis agreed the weather impacts the teams’ abilities to practice their events.

“There’s a lot of improvements that we know we have to do, but it’s just getting to the track,” Davis said. “We just need good days to get on the track.”

The Pioneers return to the track and field Saturday for the Dave Labor Invitational hosted by Slippery Rock University.