The Southwestern men's and women's indoor track and field teams competed last Friday and Saturday, Feb. 8-9, at the Northwest Missouri State Bearcat Invite in Maryville, Missouri.
The meet, which spanned two days, was one of the best in program history. Friday evening was highlighted by a strong performance and school record in the women's pentathlon by Elenani Tinai, as well as a new school record (10:36.71) and national qualifying mark by the men's distance medley relay by Phil Selmer, Albert Miller, Alex Vandor, and Cedrick Watson.
"Friday was a great start to the weekend. When you have people start off the meet like that it kind of sets the tone to have a successful meet. While not perfect, Elenani had a great performance in her first ever pentathlon, knowing that she was setting at No. 4 in the country and likely would qualify for nationals got everyone a little pumped up, and got even more exciting when the men's distance medley hit the qualify mark later in the evening. Had we just finished the weekend there I would have been more than happy with how our weekend had gone, but we still had another whole day to go yet," said Head Track and Field Coach Trey Bruton.
On Saturda,y the Spartans picked right back up where they left off with Tinai qualifying for the second round in the 60 meters against primarily NCAA Division II competition. Benjamin Aliel finally got back to competition in a near national qualifying mark in the 400 meters. Things really picked up when the men's 800 meters rolled around, as Vandor running out of the second heat broke his own school record by running 1:54.15 and moved himself into the 13th spot nationally in the event. Following him in the very next heat was Philip Selmer adding another national qualifying mark in 1:56.60. And in the final heat, Evan Ouverson a third sub 2-minute mark in a time of 1:59.84. The three along with an 800 meter time posted earlier in the season by Eric Portis combined to achieve the national qualifying mark in the 4x800 relay via the composite time.
The Spartans weren't done there. In the final two events of the day several more Spartans came agonizingly close to qualifying for Nationals. Shane Breheny had a 39 second PR and huge improvement on the 3000 meters school record set by a fellow teammate on the same track earlier in the season. And in the final event of the day, the men's 4x400 relay missed the qualifying standard and school record by a mere second and a half. Both events look to have a strong shot at taking down the qualifying marks at this week's Region XI Championships held at Buena Vista University Friday and Saturday, Feb. 15-16.
"I really have only been a part of a handful of meets like that and it truly was a special weekend. Looking back at meet results from past years, we aren't for sure there has ever been a more successful meet than this one. This gives us a lot of confidence and momentum heading into the Region XI Championships. Our kids are focused and ready to hit some more national qualifying standards and make this year even more memorable," summarized Coach Bruton.