Women’s track team shows ‘outstanding improvement’

Head women’s track coach Patty Vavra said that their goal was to improve this week and improve they did.

“The distance runners as a group had outstanding improvement,” Vavra said. “Almost everyone showed marked improvement from the meet prior.”

Last weekend, Jan. 21 and 22, Southern traveled to the University of Arkansas to compete against several Division I schools.

Southern held its own and came out with four new provisional marks and two new school records.

The distance medley relay (DMR) accomplished both these tasks by receiving fourth place with a time of 12:15.33. The team consists of Erin Click, junior; Iashia Castle, junior; Alison Walker, freshman; and Ashley Caffey, senior.

The relay is new to Division II competition and the team is currently ranked first in the nation.

“We figured out what shape they were in right now and tried to calculate the times they would have,” said Jamie Burnham, assistant track coach.

Burnham and Vavra calculated the relay would run a 12:13 or 12:15. They ran a 12:15 and currently are the top DII distance medley relay in the nation.

“There’s room for improvement, but they know that, too.”

Ashley Caffey, junior, ran the mile, which is the last leg in the relay.

“We did really well,” Caffey said. “All four of us just about ran our fastest times. It was a good outing and it was what we expected.”

“It was a great race as a team,” Vavra said. “It’ll be a nice event for this team.”

Also, resetting a school record and receiving a provisional mark was senior weight thrower Danee Jones.

Jones threw 59 feet to receive third place and beat her own school record by a fourth of an inch.

Jones also received a provisional in shot put to place fourth with a throw of 43 feet 9.75 inches.

“I thought I did well,” she said. “I want to see if I can throw any farther.”

Her goal is to throw past 60 feet in weight throw and 45 feet in shot put.

She also would like to be the national champ in weight throw and go to nationals in shot put.

She currently holds the number one spot in the nation in DII weight throw.

She was named the MIAA athlete of the week for the second week in a row for field events.

Following Jones in the shot put by a half an inch was Jones’ teammate Jessica Selby, freshman. Selby also received a provisional for shot put with a fifth place throw of 43 feet 9.25 inches.

“I expect a lot out of myself,” Selby said. “My goal is to get to the national meet.”

She said that it also helps to have supportive teammates and a good coach.

This weekend, the team will travel to the University of Kansas to compete.

“At KU we’ll have a lot more competition,” Jones said.

However, she didn’t think that the meet would be much harder than normal.

“Basically, I just want to improve,” she said.

Vavra agreed.

“Our goal is to continue to improve,” Vavra said. “We’ll have some great competition [a KU] to push us to that.”