Early success bodes well for season’s stretch


Distance runners [left to right] Emily Harris, Dana Roberson, Addie Mengwasser and Shelby Werner push the pace during one of the races at the MSSU Open held in the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center on Jan. 16. The Lions won three events in the first indoor meet of the semester.

The Missouri Southern women’s track and field team was back in action at home last weekend, grabbing three first-place finishes. The two-day MSSU Open on Mercy Track Meet inside the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center was the first meet of 2015 for the Lady Lions and their first time competing since the season-opening Early Bird Invite on Dec. 6, 2014.

Day one of the meet started out with All-American junior jumper and sprinter Brittani Reagan returning from a severe stress fracture of the leg. After missing close to a year, Reagan placed second, hitting a provisional mark in the long jump with a distance of 18-10.00. Freshman thrower Victoria Foley was also able to earn a provisional mark, placing second in the weight throw after posting a distance of 55-09.25.

“It was a good start to the season,” said Reagan. “Being at home made me more comfortable and it really starts me off with some confidence for the rest of the year.”

Saturday’s final started off with a bang as senior jumper Shelby Newell claimed victory in the triple jump with a distance of 37-05.25. Senior jumper and sprinter Amber White wasn’t done after finishing second in the event. White then went out and won the 400m dash, flying around the track with a time of 57.65.

“I felt really good about Amber … and it was great to see Brittani back out there,” said head coach Patty Vavra. “But it’s early in the year. It’s going to be one of those seasons where we have some outstanding individuals on our team but at the same time a lot of young folks. It’s a big transition coming out of high school to a Division II collegiate setting.”

Junior pole vaulter and sprinter Melanie Bower rounded out the triumvirate of women winners after edging out senior teammate Ashleigh McFarland, who finished third. Both vaulted an identical height of 11-05.75.

“I thought there were times when we looked a bit rusty,” Vavra said. “I thought we were better on the second day than the first day, but we need to get used to that competitive focus. I think as we go week in week out you’ll see that start to develop.”

Senior distance runner Kaitlyn Belisle finished third in the mile run with a time of 5:15.45. Belisle said the meet was more about seeing where the team stands condition wise after coming off an extended cross country season that allowed them only two weeks to prepare for indoor track.

“We had a couple provisionals, but we have a lot of improvement to go,” she said.

Several members of the cross country team have transitioned over to indoor track with mixed results. Kindra Emberton and Dora Eastin placed second and fourth in the 800m.

“It definitely wasn’t how I wanted to start my year,” said Emberton. “I’m just not pleased with my time, but being good now isn’t important; in February, it will be.”

The Lions will look to improve on last weekend’s performance when they travel to Warrensburg today for the UCM Invite; the action gets under way at 2 p.m.