Stephens earns trip to nationals

Written By Robert Berger, Co-Sports Editor

Photo by Robert Berger
Junior Xavier Stephens runs the final lap of the 800m event at Slippery Rock. Stephens won the race and qualified for nationals in the event.

Xavier Stephens of the men’s track and field team highlighted the team’s performance at Slippery Rock this past weekend winning the 800 meter race and qualifying for the national championship meet.

Competing in the Dave Labor Invitational, Stephens took an early lead in the 800 and maintained it through the first lap. Kyle Tumpak and Brett George of California University of Pennsylvania both challenged the lead half way through, but Stephens pushed himself on the final stretch to pull ahead and walk away victorious.

Finishing with a time of 1 minute, 54 seconds, he was just one second faster than Tumpak and George who tied for second place. Stephens will now race in the 800 m at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national championship meet May 23-25 in Gulf Shores, Ala.

This is the third time Stephens qualified at the national level, however the first during the outdoor season. His time also set a school record in the event.

Also setting a school record for the Point Park men’s track team was freshman Daniel Jacobs in the javelin with a final throw of 53.26 meters. The freshman is now just short of reaching the qualifying standard for nationals which is 55 meters.

Sophomore Donovan Burney also set a school record, but in the hammer throw. Burney finished first in his flight of throwers, and threw a distance of 37.12 meters.

Also on the track for the Point Park men’s team was senior Bryan Partika and junior Peter King both competing in the 400 meter hurdles event. Partika finished in 56.55 seconds for a second place finish. King was two seconds behind Partika with a 58.08 second finish in fourth place.

The two also competed in the 110 meter hurdle race with King and Partika finishing respectively in sixth and seventh place.

The women’s team also competed at Slippery Rock Saturday and sophomore Reba Bartram was just shy of qualifying for the NAIA national championship in the 800 meter event.

Bartram placed third overall and finished with a time of 2 minutes, 16.34 second. Her time was short of the NAIA qualifying standard by .34 seconds. It was the second week in a row she had come one second within qualifying time.

Competing in the 3,000 meter steeplechase and achieving a personal-best time was freshman Alyssa Campbell. Campbell placed fourth and finished in 12 minutes, 16 seconds. Campbell also ran in the 1,500 meter race placing sixth with a time of 4 minutes, 52.89 seconds.

The Pioneers also had a top ten placement in the 4×400 relay, placing sixth. The team of senior Taylor Celich, sophomore Selena Canello, and freshmen Veronica carpenter and Nola McGuire finished the race in 4 minutes, 12.81 seconds.

The Pioneers will continue their season next weekend as the team will split up to compete at the Westminster Invitational and the Bucknell Outdoor Classic.