For the second time this outdoor season, the men’s and women’s track teams traveled to Clemson, SC, to compete in the Clemson Invitational last Saturday. The journey across the state line once again proved to be another merited experience.
This was the first team-scored meet of the year, pitting the Cats against national competition such as Florida State, Clemson, the University of Alabama, and conference foe Appalachian State. Both WCU teams faired well by placing third. Florida State won on the women’s side, and Clemson was victorious for the men.
“It was a good meet for us being able to compete as a team,” said Head Coach Danny Williamson. “It let us see where we stood against national competition and one of the favorites for the Southern Conference Championship.”
On the women’s side, junior Ashley Herendon broke her own school record in the javelin for the third straight time this season with a mark of 148’11″. Herendon threw to a third place finish in the shot put, heaving 41’.50. Junior Virginia LaCombe won the high jump, leaping 5’8.50. LaCombe also bounded to a third place finish in the triple jump with a mark of 39’1.25.
The women’s pole vault was stacked with powerful competitors. The top six qualified provisionally for the NCAAs, jumping over the 11’1.75 standard. Senior Valerie Jalajas placed third, soaring to a height of 12’3.05. Freshman teammate Michelle Velez finished in sixth place with a 11’3.75 showing.
In the distance events, sophomore Whitney Woods finished second in the 3000-meter run and fourth in the 1,500-meter run, clocking 10:57.57 and 4:51.12 respectively.
Freshman Megan Thacker and junior Holly Bright demonstrated how to work as a team by finishing fifth and sixth in the 800-meter run with times of 2:19.43 and 2:22.93 respectively.
In the men’s distance events, sophomores Caleb Bailey and Irving Hunter finished third and fifth in the 800-meter run, running 1:55.05 and 1:56.49. Bailey also placed second in the 1,500-meter run, crossing the line in 3:57.56.
Sophomore Derrick High and senior Tim Vaught blazed to a third and fifth place finish in the 400-meter dash with times of 47.89 and 48.36.
The men’s 4×400-meter relay team, composed of Akaba Glaspie, Doug Petway, Hunter, and Johnny Bomar, earned a time of 3:18.49, which was good for third place finish.
“We were using this meet as a test run for the Southern Conference Championship in two weeks,” Williamson said. “A lot of positive things came out of it and a lot of things to work on to make us better and give us an opportunity at the championship.”
The Southern Conference Championship is to be held April 19-21 at the campus of Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, VA. Currently the Cats are ranked in respectable positions in the NCAA Division I power rankings. The women are in 26 place and the men are in 32 out of 318 possible schools.