Women’s track and field finish strong

Senior Danee Jones concentrates as she prepares for a throw during the shot put competition at the Baymount Inn/Fazoli´s Open Feb. 8 at Missouri Southern. Jones took first in the shot put and weight throw competition.

Senior Danee Jones concentrates as she prepares for a throw during the shot put competition at the Baymount Inn/Fazoli´s Open Feb. 8 at Missouri Southern. Jones took first in the shot put and weight throw competition.

Lions received more than 20 top ten finishes during the Feb. 6 Baymont Inn/Fazoli’s Open, the last home indoor meet of the season.

“It’s nice being home,” said sophomore runner Sarah Wallace. “I think that motivates us. It’s nice to see friends come out and support us.”

Freshman Alison Walker agreed it felt comfortable at the home meet and also said nearly everyone improved their times.

In the running events, senior Ashley Caffey received a provisional in the 5K with a second place time of 17 minutes, 47.92 seconds. She was also named MIAA Athlete of the Week Feb.. 8.

“I hadn’t run the 5K in a long time,” Caffey said. “I was fortunate enough to have a girl from Harding to stay up with.”

Teammate Kelly O’Toole, freshman, came in seventh in the event with a time of 19:20.48.

Assistant Coach Jamie Burnham said freshman Abby Adams ran really well to accomplish her best time ever in the 3K of 11:18.13.

Erin Click, junior, placed second in the mile invitational with a time of 5:11.37. Senior Megan Russell placed fourth in the event at 5:15.27.

In the 600-yard run, sophomore Sarah Wallace came in second in 1:28.51. Following, freshman Rachel Minard placed fourth with 1:32.82. Junior Ashley McClelland finished tenth in 1:35.42.

“It’s a tough race,” Wallace said. “You go as fast as you can and when your legs say ‘no more,’ you keep moving.”

Freshman Alison Walker finished the 800-meter in 2:16.16 for first place.

“Alison had another great performance,” said Patty Vavra, head women’s track and field coach. “She definitely controlled the race the whole way. She gets out so quick so early.”

Meanwhile, in the 200-meter, freshman Whitney Metcalf placed fourth with 26.31 and freshman Lynita Bridges placed eighth with 26.87. It was Metcalf’s first time competing without much conditioning coming back after ankle surgery.

In the field events, senior Danee Jones once again captured first place in the weight throw with a sling of 59-6 1/4. Senior Chelsea Michael threw 46-4 for ninth place.

“[Danee’s performances] stick out every week to the point they don’t stick out,” Vavra said. “You expect outstanding performances and wins which she did [this week].”

Later, in the shot put competition, Southern had four in the finals.

With so many athletes at the event, Vavra said that it was a nice boost to have a 1-2 finish.

Danee Jones’ first place throw was 42-0 and freshman Jessica Selby’s second place throw was 41-9 1/4.

Senior pole vaulter Melissa Turner cleared 10-10 3/4 for a sixth place finish. Junior Jenni Blevins cleared 9-10 3/4 for seventh.

Junior Melissa Horn placed eighth in high jump clearing the bar at 5-1 3/4.

Junior Iashia Castle, had a busy day with five events. She received a provisional mark in the triple jump with a first place leap of 38-3 1/2. Junior Dionne Prince placed third in the event with a jump of 36-8 1/2. She is ranked sixth in the nation in NCAA Division II.

“Iashia had an outstanding meet individually,” Vavra said.

Castle also soared over 18-1 3/4 of sand to earn second place and a personal best in the long jump.

“It’s been a great jumping year,” Castle said. “Especially since I didn’t jump indoor or outdoor last year at all.”

Castle pulled in another second place finish in the 400-meter with a time of 59.3.

Castle also competed in the 4×400-meter relay along with McClelland, Bridges, and Wallace. They came in second with a time of 4:04.92.

The distance medley relay team finished third with a time of 12:11.68.

The team consists of Iashia Castle, junior; Erin Click, junior; Alison Walker, freshman; and Ashley Caffey, senior.

“We improved our time,” said Caffey. “But unfortunately we let two other DII teams sneak in front of us. It was kind of bittersweet.”

The distance medley relay (DMR) team is ranked eighth in the nation and will need to at least hold its ranking to compete at the national indoor meet in Boston.

“Our focus on the DMR may be at the expense of the individual events [this weekend],” Vavra said.

The DMR is the first event Saturday morning at 9 a.m. so the athletes won’t be fresh for their individual events.

The Lions heading to the Tyson Invitational this weekend include: senior Danee Jones, weight throw; senior Ashley Caffey, 5K; freshman Alison Walker, 800 M; junior Erin Click and senior Megan Russell, mile; and the distance medley relay team.

“This week is extremely important,” Vavra said. “We have a chance in every event we’re competing in that almost every individual has a provisional qualifying mark.”