Croup’s Corner – Leave room in the trophy case

Written By Josh Croup , Sports Columnist

Winners aren’t developed overnight. Championships aren’t won due to chance. Dominance doesn’t coincide with victory.

The men’s and women’s track and field teams proved Friday they are winners in every sense of the word. They’re champions and will be for life.

They dominated in nearly every capacity.

It was the first River States Conference (RSC) Indoor Track and Field Championship in history. Point Park has come up short each year it has competed at the outdoor track and field conference championship to Rio Grande, but this year felt different.

“We’ve closed the gap on Rio Grande every year since I’ve been part of the program,” head coach Kelly Parsley said in the weeks leading up to the championship. “I feel like this year might be our year for indoor and outdoor.”

Check one of those off the list for the RSC Coach of the Year for the men and women.

Not only was it both teams’ year in indoor this season, it wasn’t even close. Especially for the women.

They tallied 206 points at the RSC Championship, 67 points ahead of second-place Ohio Christian. Point Park’s score was 73 points ahead of Rio Grande. The men scored 26 points higher than second-place Rio Grande.

10 points are awarded to the first-place finishers of each event. The second-place finisher receives eight points for his or her team, six points go to third place, four points to fourth place, two for fifth and one for sixth.

The women came away with 10 first-place finishes and the men won six events Saturday.

Anna Shields has carried the team for the past two years now and is a near lock to win any event she competes in against any runner she goes up against. She not only won all five events she competed in Saturday, she also posted the top time in the country with a one minute, 33-second 600 meter run.

The jumpers and Xavier Stephens have carried the men this season and continued the trend Saturday. Stephens was named the conference’s most outstanding men’s track athlete after he won the mile and 800 meters, contributing 20 points to Point Park’s total.

The jumpers flat out dominated the conference. The top five finishers in the long and triple jump events all had Point Park jerseys. Point Park also took two of the top three spots in the high jump.

This program began just four years ago. It was in its first year when I was a freshman, but indoor track and field wasn’t in the initial plan for Point Park at its inception.

In an interview with The Globe last year, Parsley said he pitched the idea of fielding an indoor team to prepare for outdoor season. He was brought on to start the outdoor program, but now brings the first RSC Indoor Championship trophies to the hallway at Point Park.

One obvious challenge that comes with fielding an indoor track and field team: facilities. The teams practice in another state, for goodness sake.

The team takes athletes to Youngstown State University in Ohio once a week to practice, but throwers and pole vaulters aren’t permitted to use the facility every day, putting them at a greater disadvantage.

Still, the Pioneers came away with 41 all-conference athletes and two team trophies for the university.

They might want to leave room in the trophy case or get another one on standby, with the indoor national championship, outdoor conference championship and outdoor national championship still on the horizon.