Thrower breaks University record – twice

Hallie Hocker

Breaking the University record in both of the first two meets of the season is not a normal occurrence. However, this didn’t stop sophomore thrower Jessica Selby.

Selby broke her own shot put record of 46-6 when she threw 3.5 inches farther at the Arkansas Invitational in Fayetteville Jan. 13. However, the following week at the Razorback Invitational, she crushed that new record by 28 inches.

“She had a monster throw,” said head women’s track and field coach Patty Vavra. “It was remarkable improvement in a year’s time or less.”

The throw automatically qualified Selby, an All-American, for the indoor national meet in March in Boston.

“It was probably the most excited I’d been at a track meet,” she said. “I even threw my hands up in the air – I never do that.”

Selby is currently ranked first in the nation in NCAA Division-II shot put.

Women’s head track coach Patty Vavra said Selby’s was one of many improvements seen after a slow start to the season.

“It was encouraging to see them improve that much,” Vavra said. “Like [Alison Walker’s] five seconds in the 800-meter from week one to week two.”

Walker, sophomore, also earned a provisional mark in the 800-meter with a time of 2:15.72.

“I didn’t run hard enough the first meet,” Walker said. “I knew I had more in me but not five seconds faster.”

Due to injury, Walker was unable to participate in the national meet last year.

“I’m pretty hungry for nationals this year,” she said.

Her goal is to run 2:12 before the Tyson Invitational to qualify for nationals.

Also earning a provisional mark was senior Iashia Castle in the triple jump with a fifth-place leap of 37-11.5.

Castle received a provisional in the triple jump last year.

Castle hopes to be one of the ones from the team to compete at the national meet.

“The team has best chemistry around,” she said. “They’re very encouraging.”

Castle mentioned the team has several hard workers, including some of the freshman she’s seen.

For the team’s nine freshman, the first two meets at the University of Arkansas were eye-openers.

“They walked into the U of A facility and their eyes were this big,” said Jamie Burnham, assistant track and field coach.

Inexperience will be a weakness, Vavra said, but quality underclassmen who work hard will be good for the team.

She also said team camaraderie is as good as any team she’s ever had.

“The eight seniors I believe provide great leadership for the whole team,” she said. “This team works extremely hard and is very supportive and very team-oriented. They’re a lot of fun to coach and be around.”

Vavra said in competition the Lion’s strengths will probably be the throws, horizontal jumps and a couple of individual performances in the distance and mid-distance races.

However, Vavra said it will be an off week for most of the team this week.

“After two weeks of very intense competition, it’s an opportunity to recover and get back to good hard training,” she said.

The team will compete next Feb. 3 and 4 at home in the MSSU Baymont Inn/Fazoli’s Invitational.