Track and field team performs well at the Skecher’s Carl Kight Invitational at Stephen F. Austin State

The Trinity Tigers track and field team turned in solid performances at the two-day Skecher’s Carl Kight Invitational, hosted by Stephen F. Austin State University that took place Friday, April 4 and Saturday, April 5.

In Friday night’s distance events, the runners posted a number of personal-bests and high finishes, while competing against multiple NCAA Divisions.

“UT-Tyler and Trinity were the only Division III schools at the meet. The rest of the schools were DI, DII and NAIA. The competition didn’t change the atmosphere because we compete against DI and DII schools all season long for the exception of our conference meet. Track and cross-country are special in the sense that we get to compete against top DI and DII competition throughout the season,” said assistant track and field coach Emily Daum.

Senior distance runner Vanessa Moreno placed fifth in the women’s 5,000 meter, clocking in at 17:34.55. Senior distance runner Jackie Newell came in at No. 5 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, with a time of 11:09.83. Senior distance runner Maddie Murphy finished ninth in the 1,500 meter at 4:49.19.

Sophomore distance runner Taylor Piske ran the men’s 5,000 meter in 15:16.53 for a 12th-place finish. First year distance runner Evan Epps completed the 3,000-meter steeplechase at 10:13.27 and came in 14th place. Sophomore distance runner Chris Soto, who finished 20th in the 1,500 meter, clocked in at 4:07.02.

“From this meet I would say my proudest moment was after I PR’d. Derek told me the next day I broke the first-year steeplechase record and the time was top ten in school history. And when the team picked up all their trash from our area of the bleachers. Teams don’t always do that,” Epps said.

On Saturday, the Tiger women’s 4×400-meter relay team finished 10th overall with a time of 4:06.17. Senior distance runner Jessie Dean ran a season-best time of 1:04.87 for a seventh-place finish in the 400-meter hurdles. Sophomore distance runner Mariana Sigala placed 11th in the 800 meter, at 2:20.62.

“Competing against DI schools definitely changes the atmosphere of the competition because there are a lot of really fast athletes. Being one of the only DIII teams at a meet is a little nerve-racking at first, but I think it’s good for the team because these DI athletes are able to help us get faster times as well,” Sigala said.

First-year sprinter Katie Groke (27.30 seconds) and sophomore sprinter Rebecca Earle (27.91 seconds) had season-best times in the 200 meter.

“We have two more weeks until conference and everybody is working really hard on the track and in the weight room. Everyone is trying their best, which is all that can be asked,” Groke said.

In the men’s events that took place on Saturday, junior sprinter Cody Wolfe ran a season-best of 22.66 seconds in the 200 meter for an 18th-place finish. Senior sprinter Will Paulus placed 19th in the 400 meter with a time of 50.17 seconds. Junior distance runner Ian Plantz, who clocked in with 1:57.91, came in at fifteenth place in the 800 meter, and sophomore distance runner Kirk Gulliver was 21st with a time of 2:00.43.

“I’d be lying if I told you that I don’t get a kick out of competing against DI schools. The underdog is a fun part to play, especially when we are as successful as we were this weekend,” Wolfe said.

The 4×400-meter relay team of Paulus, Plantz, junior sprinter Mike McIntosh and senior jumper George Warren clocked in at 3:25.03 for a 12th-place finish.

“I enjoy seeing the team become confident and have personal breakthroughs with their event,” said head track and field coach, Marcus Whitehead.

Another success for the team this week was having Wolfe and Warren being selected as the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Men’s Track and Field Athletes of the Week, respectively. It was Warren’s second Athlete of the Week award of the season.

Trinity’s teams will compete today and tomorrow at the University of the Incarnate Word Invitational in San Antonio. Next weekend, Moreno, Murphy and Newell will compete at the the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif. The whole team will be back home for the SCAC Championships, which will be hosted at Trinity from Friday, April 25 to Saturday, April 26. This will be the team’s last home meet of the season. The Trinity men and women will be attempting to win their second consecutive SCAC title.