Southern track takes thirteen to meet, breaks three records

Three university track records shattered at The Powered by Tyson Invitational. Southern took eight men and five women to the meet.

“We had a good performance,” said Tom Rutledge, head men’s track and field coach. “The Tyson meet is probably one of the top competitive meets in the country. Not many DII schools were there, but that’s how we like it.”

Junior Matt Campbell flew to new heights to break the university indoor pole vault record. He cleared 17-1.75 to raise the bar on the record as well as improve his automatic qualifying mark for nationals.

“I finally did get on the bigger sticks like I wanted to,” Campbell said. “When I cleared 17-2, it was kind of sloppy. This week I’m working on cleaning up my technique on top of the pole.”

Even though Campbell tied for first in height, he received second place on misses. He was also named MIAA athlete of the week Feb. 15 and is currently ranked second in the nation.

Kyle Rutledge, senior, who is ranked seventh nationally, and Russell Ellis, freshman, also competed in the pole vault competition at Arkansas.

Mike Stewart, senior triple jumper, reset his old university record with a third place leap of 48-11.50.

“Mike jumped extremely well,” Coach Rutledge said. “I was really pleased with him.”

Stewart also improved his provisional mark with this jump. He is currently ranked fifth in the nation in division II triple jump.

In the throwing competition, Mike Hines, junior, received a provisional in the shot put with a throw of 53-02.25. He placed 13th. Currently, Hines is ranked 13th in the nation in division II shot put.

Nick Vince, freshman, also competed in the shot put competition.

“I improved on my performance from the week before,” Vince said. “Hopefully, if I’m feeling good, I can throw a provisional.”

The 5,000-meter was the only running event Southern competed in at the meet.

Paul Koehler, senior, crossed the finish line in 14:40.91. He gained a provisional mark for the nationals and placed 10th.

“I think I needed that race to reassure myself I could do better,” Koehler said.

Craig Rhoads, senior, also ran in the 5K. He finished with a time of 15:05.09 to place 12th.

This weekend the men plan to take a full team to the University of Oklahoma.

“I’m looking forward to big competition and good competitors,” Vince said.

Vince isn’t the only one looking forward to competition at OU.

“It’s a great place to jump,” Kyle Rutledge said. “And I’ve had a good week in practice.”

This weekend, he is looking to get on bigger poles. Teammate Campbell is hoping to clear his new goal of 17-4 or 17-5 at OU.

“We’ve got to fine tune,” said Coach Rutledge. “We’re going to have to run a perfect meet at conference.”

Women’s head track and field coach Patty Vavra said while the quantity of performances were few, they were quality.

“The competition is so good it automatically makes you compete at a higher level,” said senior Ashley Caffey.

In fact, the distance medley relay team ran almost 14 seconds faster than its previous week’s record time. This improved their provisional mark.

“The DMR dipped way down under their previous best,” Vavra said. “They gave themselves a real nice chance to go to nationals.”

With a time of 11:57.70, they claimed second place and set the new University record. The fourth place nationally ranked team consists of Caffey, Click, freshman Alison Walker and junior Iashia Castle.

Then, Caffey came back to the lanes an hour later to compete in the 5000-meter.

“That was a pretty tough double,” said Vavra.

Caffey finished fifth with a time of 17:43.27 to improve her provisional mark.

“It felt like the race [the DMR] got me warmed up and got me going,” she said. “I was already on the track and not as nervous [for the 5K].”

In the mile competition, Click also ran the mile and finished 16th with a time of 5:08.34. Senior Megan Russell came in 17th in the event with a time of 5:08.94, a seven second improvement from last week.

“Everyone improved their times,” said senior distance runner Megan Russell. “The next two weeks we have to keep improving and doing as good as we have been.”

Walker also competed in the 800-meter and finished in 2:16.13 to place 22nd.

“For them [Caffey, Click, and Walker] to go out and run that [the DMR] and then come back and double with a good second performance was very encouraging,” Vavra said.

In the field events, senior thrower Danee Jones was the lone Lion to compete. She threw 53-4 1/2 in the weight throw and received 20th place.

This weekend, Vavra hopes to take a full and healthy team to OU.

“This will be the last final look we have before the conference meet,” Vavra said.