On Saturday, April 15, 2017, the Southwestern Spartans traveled to the 2017 Darrel Gourley Open, hosted by William Jewell College in Liberty, MO. The Spartans had their best performance of the season so far, finishing the competition with 18 personal best performances. To put that into perspective, only 17 athletes were competing for the Spartans, meaning nearly every athlete achieved a new personal best; some competitors reached new marks in multiple events--running, jumping, or throwing the best they ever had in their athletic careers.
Among those attaining personal bests was Fijian native and 2016 Olympic competitor, Sisilia Seavula. Seavula managed to run the 100 meter dash in under 12 seconds (11.98), for the first time in her career, a feat that a small percentage of females have accomplished. It has been her goal for a very long time. Another impressive personal best came from high-jumper Ronald Henderson. Henderson leaped into first place at the competition, executing a jump of 2.09 meters (6 feet 10 inches).
"Ronald's goal has always been seven feet," explained Spartan Head Coach Jordan Strofaci. "It seems as though he is getting closer and closer to attaining that."
Henderson also finished seventh place in the long jump with a mark of 6.30 meters (20 feet, 8 inches). Other top finishers who scored points at the competition for the Spartans includes freshman hurdler Anthony Klocke. Klocke reached personal-best marks in both the 110- and 400-meter hurdles, finishing second in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 15.17 and finishing ninth in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 59.75 seconds.
The men's 4x100- and 4x800-meter relays also placed well. The 4x100 meter relay team consisting of Jeremy Newton, Dylan Lucas, Malik McClellon, and Andrew Conover finished seventh with a personal best time of 44.62 seconds. The 4x800 meter relay team of Jalen Two Leggins, Gabe Esser, Richard Wilkins, and Kevin Dietrich finished second place with a personal-best time of 8 minutes, 32 seconds.
For team scores, the men finished 11th of 17 teams after scoring 32 points, outperforming Graceland University, Avila University, Central Methodist, Ottawa University, Denver Track Club, and Highland Community College. The women finished 15th of 16 teams, tallying six points and beating William Penn.
"It is great to celebrate these accomplishments, but we still have to look forward because we are really only just getting started. We haven't even begun to peak yet," said Strofaci. "These performances are a product of the athletes' hard work and trust in the training since day one. All I could ask for is coachable athletes with a passion for the sport and believe in the training program, and we have exactly that."
Next weekend, Saturday, April 22, the Spartans will travel to Grinnell to compete at the Grinnell Invitational hosted by Grinnell College where the Spartans will look to maintain their momentum.