Sophomore Brennan Benkert and Senior Ryan Arthur run towards the finish line in the 3,000-meter run.

Julie Lybarger

Sophomore Brennan Benkert and Senior Ryan Arthur run towards the finish line in the 3,000-meter run.

The Missouri Southern track and field teams enter tonight’s University of Nebraska Invitational with this week’s MIAA track and field athletes of week.

Senior Jacob Williams earned the honor by automatically qualifying for the national meet in the pole vault last weekend. Williams placed third in the event, but was the top collegiate performer with a height of 16 feet 6 inches.

“He is a good kid and is working very hard,” said Tom Rutledge, men’s track and field head coach.

Senior Jessica Selby-Tallman, who already had a automatic national berth, improved her seed for nationals by beating her distance at the Fazolis/Baymont Inn Invitational last weekend. Selby-Tallman won the shot put event with a throw of 51 feet 8 and one-fourth inches.

“Her throw was giant, it was a school and facility record,” said Patty Vavra, women’s track and field head coach.

“She is just throwing extremely well.”

Selby-Tallman also won the weight throw with a throw of 18.09 meters.

Sophomore Kimi Shank competed in the 5,000-meter run at the University of Arkansas. Shank placed second in the event, but was the top collegiate athlete. Shank ran in the distance in a time of 17:26, which is a new school record. The previous record was 17:40 and was set 10 years ago.

“This was an opportunity she needed and she took full advantage of it,” Vavra said. “I still think she has better ones in her.”

Shank also won the one mile invitational run with a time of 5:14.77 at the Fazolis/Baymont Inn Invitational. Sophomores Courtney Waltbillig and Kara Eckard and junior Kari Fritchie also competed in the one-mile invitational run placing third, seventh, and eighth.

Senior Jessica Self placed second in the weight throw competition behind Selby-Tallman.

“The Jessica’s (Self and Selby-Tallman) are both seniors and they have goals they want to accomplish,” Vavra said. “They really push each other, as well as, encourage one another.”

Junior Stacy Borgard placed fourth in the 200-meter dash and 1st in the 600-yard run. Sophomore Victoria Kline won the 3,000-meter run with a time of 10:47. Junior Krista Merril was a close second with a time of 10:52.

The women’s team also won the 4×400 relay and distance medley. Senior Alison Walker won the 800-meter run with a time of 2.18. Sophomore Channel Lloyd placed first in the long jump, while junior Camille Brown placed second in the 400-meter dash. Sophomore Erin Steffens placed second in the shot put.

The men’s team also had several top performances.

Senior Russell Ellis and Junior Seagar Wilson placed fifth and ninth in the pole vault. Southern Assistant Coach Kyle Rutledge, won the pole vault with a height of 17 feet one inch.

“Our vaulters are really starting to heat up,” Tom Rutledge said. “We should have at least three automatic national berths.”

Sophomore Cory Reynolds won the high jump with a height of 6 feet 9 and one-half inches.

“He had a very good meet and a provisional to nationals,” Rutledge said.

Sophomores Andrew Wright and Jordan Patton finished first and second in the 200-meter dash. Senior Ryan Arthur placed second in the 3,000-meter run. Freshman Aki Nummela finished second in the 800-meter run.

“Cross Country took its toll on the distance runners. It was very rigorous and they are still feeling some of it,” Rutledge said.

“We don’t have a lot of depth right now. Hopefully that doesn’t catch up with us,” Tom Rutledge said.

Both teams will be in action this weekend at the University of Nebraska Invitational. The meet begins tomorrow and last through Saturday night.