Conference lies in wait for track

Junior Dionne Prince desires a triple jump of 39´ and a long jump of 18´.

Junior Dionne Prince desires a triple jump of 39´ and a long jump of 18´.

“Pick up the pace” is what Missouri Southern’s mid and long distance runners did Saturday at the University of Arkansas John McDonnell Invitational.

Four of the women ran a personal record (PR) in their event at the meet.

“The distance runners as a group had an outstanding day at Arkansas,” said Patty Vavra, head women’s track and field coach. “Anywhere from the 800-meter to the 3,000-meter they all had personal bests, and I think in every case career bests.”

In the 3,000-meter run, senior Ashley Caffey had a solid victory finishing with a PR and provisional of 10:01.83. Junior Kelly Fanning knocked 18 seconds off her previous best time and took second place, also with provisional and PR of 10:10.62. Junior Kelly O’Toole ran a PR of 10:48.16 to receive 10th place. In the 1,500-meter run, junior Erin Click lowered her PR by seven seconds to place seventh with a time of 4:38.69

“They’ve definitely been doing the work to run that well,” said Jamie Burnham, assistant men’s and women’s track and field coach and distance coach. “Finally all that work paid off.”

In the unseeded 800-meter run, sophomore Sarah Wallace took second and PR’ed for the second week in a row, this time by a 1.5 seconds with a time of 2:18.15.

“I’m chipping it off a little bit week by week,” Wallace said. “Hopefully, I can peak by conference.”

Vavra said she was also pleased with the 400-meter hurdlers. She said after an off week last week they came back and got into the rhythm again.

Freshman Whitney Metcalf finished third with 1:04.19. Freshman Rachel Minard finished in 1:05.95, her second best time of the season to place fifth. Junior Ashley McClelland crossed right after in sixth with 1:06.81.

“It was a smaller meet,” Metcalf said. “There was a much larger meet at KU. We had good competition but not a lot of it.”

The 4×100-meter relay ran for the second time this season and received fourth place with a time of 48.96. Members of the relay include: Castle, Metcalf, Minard, and Prince. The Lions’ 4×400-meter relay consisting of Minard, Wallace, McClelland and Castle ran a season’s best of 4:01.16 and received fourth place.

In the pole vault competition, senior Melissa Turner cleared 10-2 for eighth place. Junior Jenni Blevins also went 10-2 but received ninth place.

Junior Dionne Prince long jumped 17-10 3/4 and placed eighth.

This was her best jump of the year. Last week at Wichita State University, junior Iashia Castle earned a triple jump provisional mark of 38-2 3/4. At Arkansas Saturday she and Prince tied for fourth with jumps of 37-6 3/4. This was a personal best for Prince, who is coming off an injury.

“She’s beginning to look like her old self again,” Vavra said.

In the throwing events, senior Danee Jones once again captured the top spot in discus with a throw of 144-9. Freshman Amanda Littlefield came in sixth with 121-00. Senior Chelsea Michael placed seventh with 116-10.

“I threw about average, but that’s unacceptable,” Michael said.

“I need to break the average barrier because it’s going to take more than average to score at conference.”

Jones also took second in the hammer, this time with a throw of 169-1. Michael was ninth with 133-1.

“Danee did normal,” Vavra said.

“She throws provisionals every week in at least two events.”

Jones, ranked fourth in the nation in discus, plans to train through conference to peak at nationals.

Freshman Jessica Selby threw the shot put 45-3 1/2 , taking second.

Jones had a fourth place throw of 42-11. Michael placed eighth with 37-3 3/4.In the unseeded 200-meter dash, freshman Re Waterford ran 27.42 for sixth.

“It was a good weekend,” Vavra said. “It was definitely some of our best marks of the year from several of the athletes.”

Saturday, Southern will host the Bill Williams/Bob Laptad Invitational.

“This is our final tune-up for the conference meet,” Vavra said.

“It’s always nice to do that at home.”

This will be freshman thrower Jessica Self’s first meet of this season.

She was redshirted this season due to an injury.

Michael said the throwers could use some support.

“Hopefully, we’ll go out strong to get ready for conference,” Littlefield said.

Next weekend they will head to Pittsburg State University for the MIAA conference championship meet.

“I’m looking forward to coming together and competing and seeing some good performances from everybody,” Jones said.