Indoor track and field achieves back-to-back championship titles

Indoor track and field victorious in RSC

Written By Robert Berger, Co-Sports Editor

Photo by Robert Berger
Michael Morris competes in the high jump last Saturday in Tiffin, Ohio at the RSC Indoor Track and Field Championship. Both teams won the RSC title. “We overcome so much here at Point Park… It’s a challenge without having facilities and to overcome that, winning a championship makes it a little sweeter” coach Kelly Parsley said.

For the second year in a row, both the men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams are conference champions after spending this past weekend in Tiffin, Ohio.

“The conference teams were definitely coming for us, so this victory was a little sweeter than last year’s because the conference has gotten so much better,” head coach Kelly Parsley said. “I hope a part of that is because of the success of our program, to get those programs sort of jump started.”

Earning 158 points on the day, the women’s team defended their title in the second ever River States Conference (RSC) championship meet. Behind the Pioneers was Rio Grande University with 130 points and Cincinnati Christian University (CCU) who scored 112.

On the day, 14 athletes from the women’s team earned all-conference honors after the team was victorious in eight different events.

After four individual event wins, Senior Anna Shields was awarded RSC Indoor Women’s Track Athlete of the Year for the second year in a row. On the day, she scored 42.5 team points.

Shields earned her individual victories in the one mile, 600 meter dash, 1,000 meter run and the 3,000 meter run. In the 600 meter, Shields ran the best time in the NAIA by 11 seconds and qualified in the event for the NAIA National Championship meet.

In the one mile race, freshman Alyssa Campbell followed Shields across the finish line just one second after her. In one of the closest races of the day, Campbell completed her laps in 5 minutes, 28.22 seconds while third place finisher Mackenzie Neher of IU East finished in 5 minutes, 28.92 seconds.

“Two days ago, I found out I had the flu, so I was just trying my best,” Campbell said. “The girls have been conference champs for years so I’m just so excited to be a part of this.”

The Pioneers began the day with a victory in the 4×800 meter relay. The team consisted of senior Taylor Celich, sophomores Alyssa Boyd and Reba Bartram and Campbell.

“Even though I’m a senior, I feel no different than the sophomores and freshman I’m running with in the 4×800,” Celich said. “They are young but they know exactly what they’re doing and are incredibly knowledgeable about the sport.”

Photo by Robert Berger
Senior Anna Shields competes in the 3K last Friday. Shields won 4 individual races and was awarded RSC Indoor Track Female Athlete of the Year.

The Point Park middle distance runners earned 16 points in the women’s 600 meter dash  while the score was tight. Shields took first  and junior Kim Stamets placed third.

“We are definitely smaller on the sprint side and my recruiting has been focused on that,” Parsley said. “We have 18 recruits for next year… so I’m working on getting short sprinters.”

Sophomore Reba Bartram also earned an individual win in the 800 meter dash with a time of 2 minutes, 26 seconds.

The 4x4oo meter relay team of sophomore Selena Canello, Stamets, Shields and Bartram won by finishing in 4 minutes, 16 seconds with Ohio Christian University taking second.

The final win for the women came in the last event of the night in the distance medley relay (DMR). Boyd, Campbell, Celich and freshman Nia Goodman claimed first in 13 minutes, 28.65 seconds.

On the field, sophomore Miranda Schry claimed third place in the triple jump with a leap of 9.76 meters.

The men’s team was just as successful last Friday scoring 156 points. Behind the Pioneers was IU East and CCU scoring 142 and 120 points, respectively.

One of the most crucial wins of the meet came in the 800 meter dash. The Pioneers claimed all three spots on the podium and earned 24 points as junior Xavier Stephens and freshmen Jared Thompson and Doug Kostelansky placed in that order. After this event, Point Park took the lead and never lost it from then on.

Junior Bryan Gutierrez set a conference record in the 3K with a first place finish in 9 minutes, 21 seconds. Just one second ahead of second place finisher Drake Dickerson of OCU.

“Bryan Gutierrez was the outstanding runner of the meet for us.” Parsley said. “He came back and won the 3K which was huge for the program, and once he won we knew we were going to win”

Like the women’s team, the men also won the 4×800 race. The team consisted of freshmen Robert Hays, Thompson and seniors Dannys Marrero and Andre Bennett.

Competing in the 600 meter dash for the Pioneers was Bennett. The senior earned RSC all-conference honors by finishing in third place in 1 minute, 26 seconds.

Also putting up a strong effort on the track was Stephens. Stephens took the top podium spot in the men’s one mile finishing in 4 minutes, 33 seconds. He also claimed first place in the 800 meter dash.

Stephens was also part of DMR alongside  Kostelansky, Marrero and Bennett.  The squad earned eight team points with a second-place finish. Eight points also came from the 4×400 meter relay team of Thompson and seniors Anthony Reina, Bryan Partika and Andre Lowery.

“I think we went into the meet this year as an underdog, so it felt really good to win it again this year,” Stephens said.

Senior Michael Morris contributed 17 points in the winning effort competing in the high jump, triple jump and the long jump. Morris placed second, third and sixth respectively in those events. For his performance, Morris was awarded RSC Men’s Indoor Field Athlete of the Year.

Chance Callahan put up a strong showing in the triple jump placing second with a leap of 13.56 meters.

Morris and Callahan were among the 12 men to earn RSC-all conference honors.

For the second year in a row, coach Parsley was named RSC Men’s and Women’s Indoor Track Coach of the Year.

“We all love coach. He is so passionate about track and cross country and I think its just great,” Celich said. “He is awesome in the fact that he truly cares about and he is involved.”

The team will travel to Kent State on Friday for the Kent State Tune Up in preparation for the NAIA National Championship meet coming up Feb. 28-March 2.