By Erica Dunigan
Staff reporter

Saturday brings the 50th Anniversary of the Southwestern College Relays. It will also be the last meet before the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships May 5.

“I am expecting over 20 teams,” said Jim Helmer, head men’s track coach. “Everybody is trying to put it together at this point in the season and it will be outstanding competition.”

Mike Kirkland, head women’s track coach, says that this is the time of the year where the level of competitiveness plays a large role.

“We are at the tail end of the season and every meet takes on a little bit more importance,” said Kirkland. “Everybody’s level of competition keeps creeping up because everyone wants to finish on a good note. This is the fun time of the season.”

SC Relays is the second home meet for the Builder track team this year and the team will remain home for the conference championships.

This past week featured two track meets and four days of competition for the team. Many athletes attended the Kansas University Relays Thursday through Saturday, while those who did not qualify competed at the Tabor Invitational Wednesday.

“We had a lot of good results other than just the logistics of spreading people around,” said Kirkland. “You kind of come to expect at this time of the year that the performances will get better. The athletes sense that and there is no lack of effort or competition.”

Amy Pierson, nursing senior, stole the show on the women’s side, running a 2:15.31 in the 800-meter run and hitting a provisional qualifying mark for nationals.

“She had great competition around her and it was about eight-tenths of a second off of the school record she set two years ago,” said Kirkland. “She is rounding out to her top shape.”

Pierson’s time also earned her fourth place in the race.

In the 1500 meter run, Jennifer Hendrixson, business administration and marketing junior, Jacey Cullop, biology junior, and Erica Dunigan, communications junior, hit seasonal best marks with times of 5:17.84, 5:23.51, 5:44.16 respectively.

“Thursday night was great condition-wise and the result was a lot of season-best and career-best performances,” said Kirkland.

From the Tabor meet, Mandy Bostwick, elementary education junior, and Allyssa Zentner, athletic training sophomore, both made improvement in the shot put. Bostwick threw a season best distance of 39-2 ¼ to finish seventh overall. Zentner followed with a career best throw of 36-4 ¾.

On the men’s side, Colton McNinch, biochemistry freshman, and Andrew Topham, biology senior, both hit automatic qualifying marks in the 10,000 meter run.

“They guys in the 10,000 ran outstanding,” said Helmer. “Colton moved up to second all time in the 10,000 at Southwestern and he is just a freshman.”

McNinch finished with a time of 31:09.65 and placed fifth. Topham finished with a time of 31:32.79.

Helmer said that he was pleased with the team’s performance overall.

“It was a very successful meet for us,” said Helmer. “We were trying to get people to be consistent and perform well so their confidence level would go up for these next couple of meets.”

Clinton Dick is a sophomore majoring in convergent journalism. You may e-mail him at clinton.dick@sckans.edu.