The track and field team hosted its fourth annual Wes Kittley invitational over the weekend, breaking four stadium records and earning four gold medals.
Senior Taylor Yantis Woods got the gold-medal winning started with a come-from-behind victory in the heptathlon. The victory is Woods fourth-career heptathlon win, as she beat out her next closest competitor by 20 points and set the stadium record with 4,677 points.
ACU would return to the gold-medal stand behind a first-time performance victory by junior Ryan Cleary in the steeple chase. Like Woods, Cleary would also break the stadium with a time of 9:29.58.
First-year head coach Lance Bingham said he was very impressed with he multi-event athletes.
“Cleary looks like he is going to a really strong steeplechaser,” Bingham said. “It’s still early in the year, but I felt like we had a lot of good performances. I was very pleased across the board with all the multi-event athletes. Friday was a great day for us.”
The final two gold medal performances came in the field events behind a personal best of 124 feet and four inches from sophomore Reagan Mabery and a winning pole vault of just under 13 feet by senior Kenzie Walker Mascorro.
However, the story of the day was the performance junior Kai Schmidt put on as an unattached competitor. Schmidt used the wind being at his back to his advantage as he broke his previous personal best by almost 19 feet with a discus throw of 202 feet, seven inches.
The throw at the time ranked No. 1 nationally, as it was surpassed later that weekend by Akron senior Phillip Jagers at 203 feet, six inches. Schmidt’s toss also ranks him 10th in the world among college discus throwers and earns him a spot at this summer’s German Nationals.
Schmidt said it was his hard work since the end of last season that has helped him to this point.
“In Track it is important how you prepare yourself over the entire year before you start competing again,” Schmidt said. “I came back out here last fall and worked every day with the mindset that I want to be in the best shape of my life as soon as the season starts. That’s how I worked every day, and that’s the mentality I brought to practice. I also tried to see track more like the fun part of the day instead of a job I have to get done, which probably hindered me last year. Not to forget Coach Cook who was just awesome throughout the year and competition to keep me focused and kept me excited about even tiny improvements.”
Redshirt junior Michaela Hackett also competed as an unattached competitor and broke the stadium record int he 5K with a time of 17:22.58.
The team was scheduled to split this week and weekend, with some heading to the Texas Relays and the rest traveling to Texas State over the weekend. However, the Wildcats will all travel to San Marcos on this weekend to compete.”
“I think we are better off just focusing on getting to compete in a few more events as a whole,” Bingham said. “Yes you want to go down and compete, but early season we want to do our best and have the right mindset and right focus, which prepares us for down the road.”
The Texas State Bobcat Invitational began Thursday with men’s and women’s discus and continues through the weekend.