No record was safe last weekend as the track and field team traveled to Nashville, Tenn., to compete in the Black and Gold Invitational hosted by Vanderbilt.
Three school records fell during the two-day event, including two from junior Tonia Pratt and another from junior Brittany Bohn.
Pratt, who set the school record in the hammer throw event a week ago in the team’s outdoor opener, broke her own record with a throw of 184 feet, 6 inches. The toss not only set a new Murray State record, but also shattered the previous OVC record of 176 feet, 7 inches set by Pratt at the conference championships in May 2013.
The Michigan Center, Mich., native followed up the impressive performance a day later by breaking the Murray State shot put record with a throw of 49 feet, 3 inches. Pratt finished third overall in the event, but took the top spot among all OVC throwers at the meet.
“(Pratt) is never satisfied, which is the key to being successful in anything,” Head Coach Jenny Severns said. “She walked away from that huge throw in the shot put mad. That’s why she’s so good. Some people will do something big and celebrate and be satisfied, but she’s never satisfied and she always wants to get better.”
Bohn also posted her first record-breaking performance of the outdoor season, posting a time of 7 minutes, 17.38 seconds in the 2,000-meter steeplechase, breaking the previous Murray State record time of 7:29 set in 2012.
Bohn’s time was the best of any OVC runner at the meet, and good for a fourth-place finish overall.
“It was a huge first steeplechase for her,” Severns said. “Your first steeplechase of the season can often be kind of shaky. She went for it. She went with the leaders and those were some really accomplished girls who led that race.”
Severns also said she was pleased with her team’s attitude and mental toughness. The second day of the meet was marred by bad weather, but the Racers found a way to push through and still post positive results.
“The biggest thing I took from the meet is that I’m happy with their attitudes and where they are mentally,” Severns said. “You’ve got to be able to compete in bad weather like that, even when it’s miserable. In the past we would have had a lot of people complaining and it really would have made me mad, but there wasn’t any of that last weekend.”
Sophomore Alicyn Hester overcame the wet and windy conditions and posted a personal best time of 2:22.67 in the 800 for a second-place finish, and a time of 4:47.65 for a fifth-place finish in the 1,500.
Other notable performances included Murray native Hannah McAllister, a sophomore who set personal records in the 100 and 200-meter dashes. McAllister placed second in the 100 and fifth in the 200.
Sophomore Kiara Austin also posted a career best in the triple jump, with a mark of 12 meters. The performance earned her fifth place overall.
The Racers are in for a third straight weekend of competition today and Saturday. However, Severns’ team will enjoy the comforts of home as Murray State hosts the Margaret Simmons Invitational.
“Home meets are great because (the athletes) don’t have to worry about anything but competing,” Severns said. “A lot of families and friends and professors from classes will come and watch, so it’s just kind of nice for them to display what they do for people who don’t normally get to see it.”
After this weekend’s competition, the Murray State team will have four weeks left before the season culminates at the OVC Outdoor Championships in Edwardsville, Ill., May 2-3.
As the team progresses through the middle of its outdoor schedule, Severns said she wants to see improvement every week.
“The biggest thing for us is just gaining momentum,” Severns said. “We don’t have to make huge improvements, just little improvements each week. That’s when they get their confidence and start getting excited. If we make those little improvements every week, then we’re doing what we need to.”
Story by Jonathan Ferris, Staff writer