The Murray State track and field team competed at the Drake Relays last week, where thousands of fans came from around the country to see talented athletes selected under strict requirements.
Of the many runners, hurdle jumpers and field contenders to compete at Drake Relays, five were from Murray State.
Head Coach Jenny Severns said she is thankful the team could get experience against more challenging competition.
“Not only is it an opportunity that does not come often for Murray State athletes, but it isn’t common for any athlete anywhere,” she said.
All-American Alexis Love finished seventh in the university/college division 100-meter dash with a time of 11.83 seconds, earning her the seventh-best time in school history.
Her run Saturday was slightly faster than the preliminary time of 12.08 she set Friday.
Sophomore discus thrower Tonia Pratt, a standout in field, placed 15th in her event when she recorded a throw of 154 feet.
The toss is currently the third-highest mark in Murray State history.
Sharda Bettis ran the 100-meter hurdles, an event in which she currently holds the school record. Bettis placed sixth in her heat with a time of 14.8.
Together, Bettis and Shaw, freshman sprinter Hannah McAllister and sophomore hurdle jumper LaShea Shaw formed a 4×100 team but failed to finish the race.
Severns said there were multiple elements as to why the Racers did not run as well as they have been in the spring season.
“Everyone had to race against the wind,” she said. “It was a crazy headwind. It affects hurdles most. It was less than ideal, but every runner had to compete in the same conditions. We just didn’t handle it as well as we could have.”
Though they have been breaking school and personal records in many recent meets, the Racers failed to be as much of a presence in the Drake Relays.
Despite the performance, Severns said she was glad the results came in a regular season meet and not the OVC tournament. The Drake Relays primarily served as a learning experience.
“We didn’t leave Drake with nothing,” she said. “I think they needed to get out there and see what it is like to compete in conditions like that. This will definitely give them a leg up. It was a more intense meet than the first round of the OVCs is.”
Shifting its focus to the OVCs has been the main objective for the Racers this spring. They have stepped up workouts and practices to prepare for the competition.
“So far, I feel very prepared after the workouts I have been doing,” senior distance runner Carolyne Tanui said. “I have been doing such long runs because I want to get faster in time.”
Tanui is currently preparing to run the 5K and 10K events. Last season, she placed sixth in the OVC Outdoor Championships 10K event, breaking her personal record with a time of 39 minutes, 51 seconds.
Tanui said she believes her entire team will do well this weekend.
“I am very confident in them and myself,” she said. “I think we are very ready.”
The Racers are competing this weekend in Charleston, Ill., at the OVC Outdoor Championships. It is the final competition before the NCAA Outdoor Championships, which will be held June 5-8.
Story by Carly Besser, Staff writer.