Indoor season ends, outdoor kicks off

Jessica Selby shows off her second-place trophy from the NCAA Division II indoor track championships.

Special to the Chart

Jessica Selby shows off her second-place trophy from the NCAA Division II indoor track championships.

Missouri Southern closed out the 2007 indoor track and field season by bringing home four All-American athletes from the NCAA Division-II championships.

Junior Jessica Selby, who was ranked first in the shot put event prior to the meet, came in second to Bemidji State’s Sheena Devine. Selby busted out a huge throw of 50-6.75 on her second throw of the first flight, besting her previous personal record (PR) by 15 inches. Selby had the lead until Devine’s last throw of finals which was 51-00.25.

“It was bittersweet,” said women’s head track and field coach Patty Vavra. “She had the chance to win and in a matter of seconds it was taken away.”

Selby knew she had to throw big in the finals and not just in the preliminaries to win though.

“Especially when you PR by 15 inches it’s hard to stay up at that peak,” she said. “I started down the other side of the mountain and couldn’t get back up.”

Selby said Devine earned the championship though.

“She had a better series of throws than I did.,” she said. “She deserved it.”

Besides throwing, Selby also sang the national anthem again for the meet. In addition to receiving All-America accolades, Selby was honored to be named Regional Field Athlete of the Year by the Track and Field Coaches Association.

Adding to Southern’s success were three men pole vaulters who made it into the top 10. Sophomore Seager Wilson said even though competition was tough, they did better than they were expected to do.

Junior Jacob Williams claimed fourth place by clearing 16-04.00. Junior Russell Ellis took sixth place in the pole vault with 16-04.00. Wilson, this year’s indoor MIAA pole vault champion, took eighth in the event, clearing 16-01.00.

“The competition was really good,” Williams said. “There were 12 jumpers between 16-01 and 16-04.”

Final placing in the event came down to misses in several cases. The men look forward to vaulting outdoors and continuing their success. Williams has already secured his spot at the outdoor national meet when he hit 16-08.75 at Pittsburg State two weeks ago.

Men’s head coach Tom Rutledge said he likes to have the pole vaulters vault the week after indoor nationals because they have normally have their rhythm down well at that time.

“It’s a good way to start,” Williams said. “It’s fun to keep jumping again. We should have three more outdoor qualifiers [for nationals].”

Also competing in the pole vault event at nationals was junior Erica Culver. Culver finished thirteenth in the event with a vault of 12-00.75. Vavra said the competition was very tough this year to the point that Culver probably would have placed a lot higher if she had the competition from previous national meets. Freshman Chris Brown also competed at nationals. He took tenth in the high jump event by jumping 6-06.75. Rutledge said Brown faced some fierce competition as well, with two of the best high jumpers in the country, regardless of Divisions.

Rutledge also received recognition at the end of the indoor season. The Track and Field Coaches Association selected him to be the Coach of the Year. Rutledge was also named MIAA Coach of the Year.

“I couldn’t have done these things without great kids,” Rutledge said. “Those kids gave their heart and soul and brought the trophy home,” he said of Southern’s upset of the MIAA conference meet this year.

Rutledge is looking forward to the outdoor season but currently some of his key contributors are injured.

“We won two championships and it’s taken its toll,” he said.

Rutledge also said a lot of the freshmen still aren’t used to the back-to-back seasons. This has especially taken its toll on some of the distance runners, who are now entering their third season in a row.

“I hope we can muster up and give [the outdoor MIAA championship] a run for the year,” he said. “If anybody can do it these guys can.”