Racers take fourth at Indoor Championships

Junior Sharda Bettis and sophomore Natalie Pattin run at Wednesday’s practice. The relay team of Bettis, Pattin, senior Alexis Love and sophomore LaShea Shaw finished in fifth in the 4x400 meter relay at the event. || Taylor McStoots/The News
Junior Sharda Bettis and sophomore Natalie Pattin run at Wednesday’s practice. The relay team of Bettis, Pattin, senior Alexis Love and sophomore LaShea Shaw finished in fifth in the 4x400 meter relay at the event. || Taylor McStoots/The News

Junior Sharda Bettis and sophomore Natalie Pattin run at Wednesday’s practice. The relay team of Bettis, Pattin, senior Alexis Love and sophomore LaShea Shaw finished in fifth in the 4×400 meter relay at the event. || Taylor McStoots/The News

Track and field came one point short of third place in the OVC Indoor Championships in Charleston, Ill., last weekend.

With two additional teams in the championships this year, Murray State placed fourth out of nine women’s teams in the OVC.

The Racers gained 87 points total, right behind Eastern Illinois University with 88.

Head Coach Jenny Severns said she thinks the athletes had the best meet she could have imagined for the championship.

“Even with the two additional teams in the competition, we still gained 24 more points than last year,” Severns said.

In 2012, the Racers placed sixth of seven teams, with a score of 63 points. The sixth place score was still higher than in 2011, where the Racers earned only 26 points total.

This year, the Racers gained points in 12 out of 16 final events at the championships.

Alexis Love, senior of Palmetto, Fla., said the indoor championships motivated her to work harder for the upcoming outdoor championships. Love’s mental strength is as important to her as physical strength, she said.

“Personally, I have to set out of my mind what I’ve already accomplished,” she said.

Love placed second in the preliminary trials of the 60-meter dash, and second again in the finals with a time of 7.530, falling short of first by .06 seconds. Second place is not where she wants to be, but the motivation to

improve in the outdoor championships is what Love said she truly earned.

In the 200-meter dash, Love placed third in the preliminary trials, but moved up to second in the finals with a 24.3 time. Athletes from Jacksonville State defeated Love in both the 200 and 60-meter dashes.

While Love helped score several points in sprints for Murray State, junior Sharda Bettis of Dallas, Texas, was right behind her.

Bettis placed fifth in the 60-meter dash, .24 seconds short of Love’s time. In the 60-meter hurdles, Bettis placed second in the preliminaries, but beat her time by .21 seconds in the finals to take first place.

“I didn’t even expect to make the finals in the 60,” Bettis said. “I’m very pleased with how it went, especially in hurdles.”

Bettis was not the only Murray State athlete to place first in an event at the indoor championships.

Tonia Pratt, sophomore from Michigan Center, Mich., placed first in the weight throw with a distance of 18.56 meters. Pratt followed up the weight throw performance by finishing second in the shot put, behind Colleen McDonough of SIU Edwardsville.

Pratt improved in the weight throw from 2012, where she placed fifth a year ago.

“I just think I could always improve on strength,” Pratt said. “I didn’t weightlift in high school and now that I do, I see how much stronger I could be.”

While Bettis, Pratt and Love were top-scorers for the team, Severns said several of the younger athletes played a major role in Murray State’s success. Emma Gilmore, freshman of Locks Heath, England, placed fourth in the 800-meter run after placing eighth in the preliminaries. She also assisted the distance medley team in landing fourth place with 12 minutes and 24 seconds.

Severns said she was also proud of Abbie Oliver, sophomore of Wales, United Kingdom, who ran a total of 9,200 meters over the weekend. Oliver exceeded her personal records in every event in which she participated in. Many of the scoring athletes were freshmen, and Severns said she is proud they were able to step up at the indoor championships.

“My motto, after indoor, you’re not a freshman anymore,” Severns said. “We don’t have to change our goals for them because they already did it for themselves.”

While Severns believes Murray State athletes perform better at the outdoor championships, she said she thinks the Racers could take an OVC title soon. The team was 14 points away from first-place Southeast Missouri State.

Track and field will travel to the University of Alabama at Birmingham Last Chance Meet Saturday. The following weekend, select athletes will travel to the NCAA Indoor Championships March 8-9.

Story by Lexy Gross, Assistant News Editor.