Last weekend, the track and field team ventured outdoors for the first time in its 2014 season, traveling to Conway, S.C., for the Shamrock Invitational hosted by Coastal Carolina.
Only a few weeks removed from the OVC Indoor Championships, Head Coach Jenny Severns said she was anxious to see how her team made the transition to the outdoors.
“Sometimes the beginning of outdoor is a little bit rough because you’re going from the championship mentality back into the regular season,” Severns said. “It can be tough to keep that killer instinct and fight sometimes, especially because some of them have been competing all year.”
Several athletes competed in unfamiliar or outdoor-specific events for the first time in nearly a year.
Junior Tonia Pratt – 2013 OVC Hammer Throw Champion – picked up where she left off last May. Pratt broke her own school record in the hammer throw and earned a third-place finish. She also placed second in the shot put.
Junior Sydney Potts also set a record in her first performance of the year after winning the 2013 OVC Championship in javelin last May.
Potts beat her previous personal record and took fifth overall.
“It was really big to have (personal records) in the events they don’t compete in indoors just because it’s their first time competing in those events all year,” Severns said.
Junior Brittany Bohn also had a big day. In her first time ever running the 5,000-meter outdoors, Bohn won the event with a time of 17 minutes, 51.06 seconds.
“Since it was my first one, I didn’t really know what I was getting into,” Bohn said. “I was constantly looking over to coach every lap trying to figure out what I needed to do and when I needed to go.”
The next day Bohn set another personal record, this time in the mile, where she posted a time of 5:05.16 – good for a seventh-place finish.
“We knew Brittany could run really fast in those events,” Severns said. “She just hadn’t done it yet. I expected she was capable of it, but I don’t want to take anything away from it because it was a really great performance.”
Other notable performances included sophomore Hannah McAllister’s 15th-place finish in the 100-meter and personal record in the 200-meter, as well as sophomore Emma Gilmore’s two personal records and top-six finishes in the 400 and 800-meter dashes.
The Murray State relay teams also performed well with three top-10 finishes in the 4×200, 4×400 and 4×800 relays.
The team now prepares for Vanderbilt’s Black and Gold Invitational in Nashville, Tenn., this weekend.
With several runners scheduled to compete in new events, Severns said she is simply hoping to see continued progress.
“We just want to keep moving forward,” Severns said. “A lot of people are running different events this weekend than they did last weekend, so I just want to see them keep getting better and moving forward.”
Despite the outdoor season just getting underway, the Racers have less than two months until they finish their season at the OVC Championships in Edwardsville, Ill.
“We only have about six weeks until our conference championship,” Severns said, “so as long as we’re doing what we need to now, we’ll be where we need to when that comes around.”
The Black and Gold Invitational begins today and lasts through Saturday.
Story by Jonathan Ferris, Staff writer