Track team shows no sign of slowing down

Track and field had another successful week after the Racers broke more records at the Ole Miss Open and the Austin Peay Battle of the Cumberlands.

After dominating sprints at the Hilltopper Classic, the Racers seized another four event wins for the second week straight in Oxford, Miss.

Junior sprinter and hurdle jumper Sharda Bettis set the school record for the 100-meter hurdles for the second time, breaking her own record with a time of 13.64 seconds and winning the event. Sophomore hurdle and long jumper LaShea Shaw followed close behind when she placed sixth with a time of 14.30. Her efforts currently give her the 10th fastest time in school history.

Head Coach Jenny Severns said athletes like Shaw and Bettis are so consistent because they have a strong work ethic.

“Sharda (Bettis) is probably the most consistent person on our team,” she said. “In technical events, it’s hard to be that consistent.”

Senior sprinter Alexis Love was also a standout for Murray State, picking up a win in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.63.

After the successful meet at Ole Miss, Murray State traveled closer to home when it faced OVC familiars Austin Peay and Tennessee Tech in the Showdown for the Cumberland.

Tonia Pratt took first place in shot put and discus, putting herself in the program record book twice in one meet. Her throw of 46 fet, 4 1/2 inches earned her the fifth-best toss in school history, while her discus distance of 148 feet, 11 inches is the fourth highest.

“Tonia Pratt was actually one of our highest point scorers at the OVC tournament last year,” Severns said. “So that’s one of our really strong areas, because she carries us far.”

In middle distance, sophomore sprinter Natalie Pattin set a personal record when she placed second in the 800-meters at Ole Miss. Her time of 2:16 made her the eighth-fastest 800 runner in school history.

Pattin said her performance, as well as the rest of her team’s, is a confidence boost as they prepare for the OVC tournament.

“I did really well, and I hope that it will continue when we go to the OVC,” Pattin said.

The Racers are now racing in the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa.

While Pattin will not be competing in Des Moines, she is personally preparing herself in Murray for more conference-exclusive meets and the OVC tournament.

“We still have to work hard,” she said. “I have been eating right and trying to practice my events to get ready.”

The Drake Relays feature sprinting, hurdles, distance and field events, giving athletes a chance to maintain better positions in NCAA-tier competition.

“We just sent the people who had the highest chance to get in the first round of the NCAA,” Severns said. “The main goal is to get them used to competing against big competition with so many fans. There will be thousands of people watching this meet, and they have never competed in that before.”

Story by Carly Besser, Staff writer.