Track and field competition improves heading into OVC

Jenny Rohl/The News Sophomore Kiara Austin jumps at the Battle of the Cumberland April 22.
Jenny Rohl/The News Sophomore Kiara Austin jumps at the Battle of the Cumberland April 22.

Jenny Rohl/The News
Sophomore Kiara Austin jumps at the Battle of the Cumberland April 22.

After what Head Coach Jenny Severns called a “tune-up” April 25-26, the track and field team is now set to make its run at an OVC Championship this weekend.

A handful of team members traveled to Jonesboro, Ark. for the Arkansas State Red Wolves Open. Not originally a part of the team’s schedule, Severns added the meet as one final chance for some athletes to perfect their events.

“We got what we needed out of it since it was kind of just a bonus meet,” Severns said. “The 800 (meter) group’s times weren’t awesome but they weren’t bad. They just kind of raced a different way than they ever have. I’m glad they tried that then instead of at OVC.”

Junior Brittany Bohn, sophomore Emma Gilmore and freshman Raevan Wilson all competed in the 800-meter, with Bohn taking third, Gilmore eighth and Wilson 10th.

Severns said it’s especially tough for those runners in the middle-distance events, such as the 800-meter, because most of them have been competing for nearly nine months straight.

“For the middle distance group, most of them race cross-country, indoor and outdoor,” Severns said. If you’re firing on all cylinders during indoor season, there’s the fear of whether you will still be firing on all cylinders throughout the outdoor season, because they’ve been competing since August.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better group though. They’re all still putting up (personal records) and they aren’t too tired. I’m excited to see what they can do at OVC.”

Three Racers also had impressive performances in the javelin throw. All three Murray State competitors finished in the top 10. Junior Sydney Potts took third place with a throw of 39.35 meters. Sophomore Kennedy Berkley and junior Ashley Conway both set personal bests in the event and took eighth and ninth places, respectively.

The team now prepares to head to Edwardsville, Ill. for the OVC Championships today and Saturday.

Junior Tonia Pratt is headed into the weekend on a quest for another year of outdoor conference championships. Last year, Pratt took the title in both the hammer throw and discus. Despite another impressive season, the Murray State and OVC all-time record holder finds herself in an unfamiliar position this time around.

“She’s not ranked first in anything going in,” Severns said. “This is the first year that will be the case. I think that’s going to make her want it more. It’s going to be harder than it’s ever been, but because of that (a championship) would mean more than it ever has.”

The team also looks to improve its overall finish from a year ago. The Racers came up just short of Eastern Illinois last season, finishing second in the overall team points competition.

“It’s not even close to the same conference as it was when I got here,” Severns said. “As fast as we get better, everybody else is getting better too. It’s not just one area that’s improved; it’s across the board. Every event has gotten a ton better and that’s great for the conference.”

Bohn echoed Severns’ thoughts on the conference, saying it is frustrating at times seeing her competition improve each week.

“It’s a little frustrating how much better the conference is this year,” Bohn said. “That’s how it always seems to happen, when you’re at the top of your game so is everyone else. It would definitely make (winning a championship) mean more. The conference’s growth is definitely a positive but it’s a little scary at the same time.”

The OVC Championship begins at 9 a.m. in Edwardsville with the multis. Field events will begin at noon and track events at 3 p.m.

 

Story by Jonathan Ferris, Staff writer