Athletes improve provisional marks at PSU

Three Lions improved their provisional marks April 8 at Pittsburg State University. Sophomore thrower Jessica Selby, junior Marcus Walton and senior Mike Hines all took steps with their marks.

Southern faced two of its rivals Central Missouri State University and Pittsburg State University as well as the upcoming conference competition Ft. Hays State University in a team-oriented quadrangular meet at PSU on April 8.

The women’s team took third overall while PSU edged out CMSU by a point. Meanwhile, the men’s team took fourth to the FHSU win.

Head women’s track and field coach Patty Vavra said one of the highlights of the meet was the throwers’ 1-2-3-5 finish in the hammer throw.

“Like I said before, it’s a really strong event for us, especially in relationship to depth,” Vavra said.

Selby took first in the event with a throw of 158-00. Senior Ashley Clements followed with 153-00, while freshman Jessica Self took third with 151-05 and sophomore Amanda Littlefield took fifth with a throw of 149-05.

Littlefield credits part of the team’s success in the event to technique.

“It’s not that we just look it,” she said. “We are more technically sound.”

Littlefield said a lot of other teams try to “muscle it out there.”

Four Lions also made it into the top six in the shot put competition. Selby led the way with a 46-04.75 throw, which improved her NCAA Divison II provisional mark. Clements came in third with a throw of 39-02.50. Freshman Cortney Vie took fifth in the event with 38-08.75, while Self came in sixth with 38-00.25.

Vie also finished fourth place in the discus with a throw of 123-04. Littlefield took sixth with 123-00.

“You can tell we have high expectations of ourselves and each other, and we expect to achieve them,” Littlefield said.

Selby wasn’t the only Lion to improve a provisional mark.

On the men’s side, Walton and Hines also improved their provisional marks.

Walton beat his closest competition in the 800-meter run by nearly five seconds to win with 1:52.42.

Meanwhile, Hines took the top spot in the shot put with 54-03.75.

Also with top finishes, the men went 1-2-3 in the pole vault.

Senior Matt Campbell cleared 16-08.75 for the win. Freshman Seager Wilson and sophomore Russell Ellis both cleared 14-11.00 for second and third, respectively.

Even though Wilson got second, he said he isn’t pleased with the way he’s been jumping.

“I feel like it’s not as high as I should be,” he said. “I need one all-around good meet to put it all together at the same time.”

He said his goal is to get to nationals, which will take a plus 16-0 vault. Wilson’s personal record in high school was 16-3. He said reaching it shouldn’t be a problem as far as where he should be jumping.

Back on the women’s side, senior Iashia Castle came back off an injury to take second in the 400-meter dash with 58.49. After being indoor All-America in the triple jump, Castle came back from her first outdoor triple jump competition with a first place jump of 39-01.75.

“She’s picking up right where she left off,” Vavra said.

She also placed second in the long jump with 18-03.

Vavra said she wasn’t surprised at Castle’s strong showing after coming off an injury.

“With a history of long, hard work under her belt, I expect her to get better and better,” Vavra said.

Fellow senior Dionne Prince took fifth in the long jump and sixth in the triple jump with marks of 17-06 and 35-03, respectively.

Freshman Kara Eckard ran to a fourth place finish in the 1,500-meter run with a time of 4:52.47. Freshman Abby Adams finished eighth with a time of 5:02.03.

“There are things I need to do better to cut down time,” Eckard said. “I got boxed in and was on my heels when the gun went off – that was bad, but I was pretty happy with my time.”

On the men’s distance side, junior Dustin Miller took second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 9:47.94.

Miller described the steeplechase as a 3,000-meter race with five huge wooden barriers and a water jump on the track.

“It’s getting down to the important part of the season,” Miller said. “We’ll focus more on racing and not training.”

The coaches also said it is the time of year when athletes tend to get injuries, especially the younger ones who aren’t used to the year-round training.

“My body is like ‘Yes, this is when you’re supposed to be racing!'” Eckard said. “But at the same time, since I’ve been running all year and haven’t had an off season [my body] is kind of tired of running.”

Head men’s track and field coach Tom Rutledge said the season will be harder for the younger athletes until they become acclimated to the work they do everyday.

“It’s tough, but that’s the nature of our sport,” he said. “There’s nothing you can do but get used to it.”

Because the PSU Quad was a team-oriented meet, several athletes competed in more events than normal to score points for the team.

Vavra said she’s glad for the switch back to a normal style meet this weekend at Wichita State University.

“We’re limiting what they’re doing this week to give them a chance to have good mark in their premiere events,” she said.

She said the meet looks to have a big, quality field of athletes.

“We have the opportunity in the middle of the outdoor season to come up with some nice marks,” she said.

The Lions travel to WSU Saturday to compete in the K.T. Woodman Invitational.