Jumpers land top spots, exceed records


Photo by Robert Berger | Point Park Athletics

Junior Michael Morris jumps at a meet last season. Morris surpassed his high jump school record with a height measuring 1.99 meters last Saturday.

Written By Dara Collins, Co-Sports Editor

The men’s and women’s track and field teams added another national qualifier to the list and continued to break personal and school records last Saturday at the Mt. Union John Homon Invitational in Alliance, Ohio.

After the Slippery Rock Invitational was canceled due to weather, the Pioneers added the new meet to its schedule despite frigid conditions.

“When you compete, you want to be warm,” junior Michael Morris said. “Your legs want to be warm so you don’t pull anything or injure yourself…when you warm up in cold conditions, you could easily cool down if you’re not moving all the time before your event.”

The weather did not hold Point Park back.

Freshman Ana Benitez placed first in the triple jump with a leap of 11.56 meters, beating her previous school record. Benitez was four-hundredths of a meter shy of qualifying for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) ‘A’ standard of 11.60 meters but surpassed the NAIA ‘B’ standard of 11.40 meters.

Looking back, the national qualifier did not believe she would perform well this

“I took a month off,” Benitez said. “When I went to the first meet, I wasn’t doing well. Then, I started working out a lot more, and now I’m close to the shape I was before, so that’s why I qualified.”

The jump secured the second career NAIA National Championship qualification for Benitez, who also appeared in this year’s NAIA Indoor National Championship.

Junior Anna Shields broke yet another school record when she ran the 400 meters in 59.17 seconds and placed second. Shields now holds the outdoor school records for the 400, 800, 1,500 and 5,000.

Freshman Reba Bartram finished third in the 400 meters behind Shields with a time of 59.65 seconds.

The women’s relay teams finished within the top five. The 4×400 relay team of Shields, Bartram, Olukemi Olugbakinro and Erica Hanserd earned second place with its time of four minutes, ten seconds. The 4×100 relay team of Hanserd, Lauren Bower, Lindsey Archibeque and Selena Canello recorded a time of 52.90 seconds to finish fourth.

Throwers Mackenzie Mangum and Jasmine Wicks placed in the top ten of their events. Mangum finished fourth in the javelin, and Wicks placed eighth in the discus and tenth in the shot put.

The jumps squad continued to shine on the men’s side, as the Pioneers claimed top spots in the high jump, triple jump and long jump.

Morris earned a second-place finish and a new school record in the high jump with a height measuring 1.99 meters. Morris was three centimeters away from meeting the NAIA national qualifying standard of 2.02 meters.

“I got to actually jump inside, so that felt good that I didn’t have to jump in the cold,” Morris said. “I think I took advantage of it and just did my best.”

Senior Shaun Berry also earned a second-place finish but in the triple jump with a leap totaling 13.52 meters. Berry placed eighth in the high jump.

The long jump featured two Pioneers in the top three with junior Andre Lowery in second and sophomore Chance Callahan in third. The duo measured distances of 6.48 meters and 6.37 meters, respectively.

“This weekend we showed a lot of versatility because all the jumpers were in sprinting events and did surprisingly well in those,” Callahan said.

The 100 meter dash and 200 meter dash featured each of the four high-placing jumpers from the weekend. The crew of Callahan, Berry, Lowery and Jryi Davis finished third in the 4×100 relay with a time of 44.34 seconds, just over a second later than Point Park’s first-place team.

The 4×100 relay team of Malcolm Harris, Aramis Wright, Tyrone Robinson and Aaron Barlow secured the only event win of the day. The team finished in 43.25 seconds, less than a second from beating the previous school record of 42.59 seconds.

The 4×400 relay team of Robinson, Barlow, Brady Corklin and Xavier Stephens finished in fifth place with a time of 3 minutes, 37 seconds.

The Pioneers will be back in action this weekend at the Bucknell Bison Outdoor Classic in Lewisburg, Pa.