The track and field team participated in Baylor’s Michael Johnson Invitational over the weekend and battled high winds and stiff competition in its final away meet before the Southland Conference Championships early next month.
Up against competition from the Big-12, SEC and ACC, head coach Lance Bingham said the weather effected some of the team’s times, but the competitors battled. In fact, ACU would see five of its competitors post personal bests and move up in the Southland Conference rankings.
“It was a very difficult meet in that to get really good performances we had to battle really strong winds, it was just not great conditions,” Bingham said. ‘But in spite of that, for the most part, our team performed well.”
Among those competitors who improved their times and their rankings were distance runners, senior Sierra Bennett and sophomore Carnley Graham, javelin throwers, sophomore Reagan Mabery and freshman Natalie Jackson and freshman hurdler Riley Ellis.
Graham and Mabery were the lone Wildcat competitors to place in the top four as Graham clocked a time of 17 minute 16 seconds in the 5K for a fourth-place finish, and Mabery posted a personal best javelin throw of 40.04 meters for a fourth-place finish. Graham now sits sixth in the conference with her time and Mabery has the fifth-best throw in the Southland.
“With where we are, I think we’ll continue to see some improvement, probably with 8 to 12 athletes,” Bingham said. “Part of the problem is our distance runners have not had a non windy day yet, and it makes all the difference in the world.”
With only home meets left before the Southland Conference Championships, ACU hosts its second meet of the season, as some of the top Div. 2 competition comes to town for the Wildcat Open. Highlighting the meet will be teams from West Texas A&M, Tarleton State and Angelo State.
“It’s good to be able to not have to travel. It won’t be a very large meet next week, but there will still be some good competition,” Bingham said. “This week there will be some of the top Div. 2 competition in the nation and some good teams. We’re trying to peak toward conference and we have to take that in mind, and we have to improve our times while we decrease the volume and training amount.”
Similar to the last home meet many of the throwers and distance competitors that were redshirted at the beginning of the outdoor season will likely compete unattached. In the Wes Kittley Invitational earlier this year, redshirt junior Kai Schmidt set a stadium record for discus with a throw of 202 feet six inches as an unattached competitor. He is just one of five discus throwers at the Div. 1 level to break 200 feet.
“I think we’re in a good place with our non redshirts to finish well,” Bingham said. “It’s not like we have every event covered, but I think we have quite a few kids that can go and place at the conference meet. It’s a little difficult filling the spots and still trying to accomplish things as a team when you have a smaller team, but each individual has the opportunity to go out and still compete to the best of their ability.”
The Wildcat Open begins Thursday at 3 p.m.