Track and field season is swinging in full throttle. The Builders travel to Pittsburg to compete at the Pittsburg Invitational April 10. It will be the first of three meets that are scheduled to take place within a one week span for the Southwestern track team.
“All of our athletes will compete at Pittsburg,” said Mike Kirkland, head women’s track coach. “The Tabor meet (April 14) will most likely be those who do not qualify for the Kansas University Relays (April 15-17). The qualifying standards for the KU Relays are not as rigid as the National meet, but we want to be a little bit careful. Obviously we want our best athletes up there, but it is not a meet for everyone.”
The team is coming into a full week of preparation for Pittsburg after competing at Friends University Saturday.
“We knew Friends was going to be a challenge, but it was our best outdoor meet to date,” said Jim Helmer, head men’s track coach. “I think for the most part it was pretty much how we expected. We had around 20 personal bests for us on the men’s side.”
The men’s 4×800 meter relay team, comprised of Conner Drendel, elementary education sophomore, Jimmy Bryant, business administration senior, Carrington Crum, elementary education sophomore, and Chris Copeland, psychology junior, added their names to the list of those who have qualified for nationals thus far this season. “We went into it knowing that we had a chance to get the standard qualification,” said Drendel. “We just went out and do what we do every day in practice.”
They hit a provisional qualification with a time of 7:49.21. Their time also put them in first place in the race by almost a minute.
In the triple jump, Paige Carswell, journalism junior, had another great performance. She jumped a distance of 38-06.25 feet. This not only took first place in the event, but also came within .25 feet of her own school record. “(Carswell) is already in mid to late season form in jumping,” said Kirkland. “Her jump this week is going to put her in the top three in the country at this point in the season.”
Anjaih Clemons, business junior, also performed well. She came within .12 of a second from earning a provisional qualification in the 200 meter dash as she finished with a time of 25.47. She was able to finish in first place out of 18 competitors. “(Clemons) swept both the 200 and the 400 meter dash at Cowley and swept both of them yesterday,” said Kirkland. “It is encouraging that she is that close to a provisional qualification at this time in the year.”
Kirkland says the Friends meet will be as close as the team gets to seeing the rest of the conference until the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships April 30. “Six of the nine conference schools were there. There was a feeling of competing head to head with the teams that we will be up against in a month at the conference championships, but we didn’t put any emphasis on doing anything different because of that. We had a significant improvement with our athletes at the Friends meet. Even if it is in little increments, it is still moving in the right direction.”