Track and field teams make final preparations ahead of conferences

Written By Dara Collins, Co-Sports Editor

The men’s and women’s track teams split up this past weekend to showcase their talent at the Bucknell Bison Outdoor Classic and the Westminster Invitational.

“It was a tough decision,” head coach Kelly Parsley said. “I think it worked out best for the team to split up and give my top-end athletes a little bit better of an experience to compete at a higher level.”

Junior Anna Shields shined when she broke another school record and personal best of 4 minutes, 17 seconds in the 1,500 meters. Her previous top national time in the event was 4 minutes, 21 seconds. Shields is now 10th in collegiate rankings in the 1,500 meters.

Shields led for most of the race before Bucknell’s Christine Bendzinski passed to finish just a second ahead at 4 minutes, 16 seconds. Both runners fell below the previous facility record in the race.

“I knew that Christine Bendzinski had an awesome kick,” Shields said. “I knew it was coming in the race, but I did my best to just run my best race, so I’m proud of that.”

Shields notched a second national best with a time of 2 minutes, 7 seconds in the 800 meters on day two of the NCAA Division I meet. Freshman Reba Bartram ran in the same event and finished first in her heat with a time of 2 minutes, 19 seconds.

Returning from a concussion, Olukemi Olugbakinro finished with a time of 26.84 seconds in the 200 meter dash. Freshman Lindsey Archibeque raced in the 400 meter hurdles to place 25th at 1 minute, 8 seconds.

Junior Kara Rohlf ran a personal best and placed 10th in the unseeded 10,000 meters at 39 minutes, 10 seconds. Sophomore Mackenzie Mangum finished 25th in the javelin with a throw of 35.13 meters, her best throw of the season.

More women recorded school records and personal bests at the Westminster Invitational. Freshman Jasmine Wicks placed seventh with her season-best throw of 36.38 meters in the discus and placed ninth in the shot put with a distance of 11.63 meters, a new school record. On the track, freshman Selena Canello finished 12th in the 400 meters with a personal best of 1 minute, 1 second.

The men’s jump squad featured senior Jryi Davis in the finals of the triple jump. Davis finished ninth with a leap of 14.17 meters, and sophomore Chance Callahan placed 15th with 13.53 meters. Junior Michael Morris finished in 20th place after clearing a height of 1.91 meters in the high jump.

Junior Andre Lowery’s 6.90-meter jump earned him a new school record and fourth place in the long jump, the highest Pioneer to place in the event. Callahan finished 16th with 6.42 meters, and Davis finished 27th with 6.18 meters.

“Saturday was great weather,” Davis said. “It was perfect weather for jumping, but then it comes down to Sunday…the temperature is so cold. We know we can do better when it’s hotter.”

Sophomore Xavier Stephens competed in the unseeded 1,500 meters and finished in 4 minutes, 5 seconds.

Junior Bryan Partika finished fourth in his heat and 33rd overall in the 400 meter hurdles with a time of 59.19 seconds.

At Westminster, the men finished 11th of 22 teams.

Junior Malcolm Harris highlighted the day with a school record of 56 seconds flat in the 400 meter hurdles. The time earned Harris fourth place, and he also placed sixth in the 110 meter hurdles at 16.11 seconds.

Other top-15 finishes on the track included junior Andre Bennett in sixth place in the 800 meters, sophomore Dannys Marrero in eighth place in the 1,500 meters and senior Aaron Barlow in 14th place in the 100 meters.

Freshman Brady Corklin cleared 4.26 meters to place ninth in the pole vault and claim a school record.

The 4×100 relay team finished fifth with a time of 42.71 seconds. The team consisted of Barlow, Harris, Tyrone Robinson and Aramis Wright. The 4×400 relay team of Barlow, Harris, Corklin and Robinson placed seventh with 3 minutes, 29 seconds.

The Pioneers will compete this Thursday at the Slippery Rock Open, the last scheduled meet before the River States Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championship April 27.“It is definitely crunch time for my athletes,” Parsley said. “This is the worst weather we’ve had in all my years of coaching, but to persevere and do some of the things we’re doing without facilities is pretty amazing, so I’m pretty proud of everybody.”