Sun. Apr 14th, 2024

On Friday, Feb. 12, the Golden Rams traveled to the Lafayette-Rider Winter Classic, which was held inside the New York City Armory. Many athletes improved their times and reached their goals that night. Senior captain Matt Houser reached his goal of “owning” the WCU school record. Houser ran the 400m in 48.83 seconds, which gave him the gold in that event along with receiving a national provisional qualifying time. He qualified for the 2010 NCAA Division II Men’s Indoor Track and Field Championships and was named PSAC Male Indoor Track Athlete of the Week. Houser’s time ranks 15th in Division II and first in the PSAC this season.

Along with possessing the school record, he also finished seventh with a time of 22.25 seconds in the 200m. His competitors were made up of nearly all Division I schools. Houser’s 200m time is the second-fastest in school history along with the sixth-best time in the PSAC so far this season.

Houser also contributed to the 4x400m relay team that set a school record on Friday. The 4×400 team, consisting of Houser, Craig Espenshade, Kyle Perry and Tim Thiry, completed the relay in 3:19.49, which is the second-best time in the conference so far this year. Perry has set high expectations for his 4x400m relay team.

“I am very confident in the men’s 4×4. We ran our fastest time last weekend and broke the school record, so as long as we feed off that adrenaline from last week, we should top the podium, break the school record again and qualify for nations.”

Along with breaking a school record in the 4x400m relay, Thiry and Perry both qualified for the PSAC Championships in the 800m dash. Thiry finished in 17th place with a time of 1:58.84 and Perry clocked in at 1:59.79 to take 25th place. Perry also received 25th in the 400m, running a time of 51.03 seconds. Right behind Thiry and Perry, Kevin Selinsky ran the 800m in 2:04.36, which put him in 42nd place.

Espenshade also received 2nd place in the 400m with a time of 48.88 seconds. This gave him the second best time in school history, along with the 4th best time in the PSAC this winter.

Male athletes such as Leighon Johnson, Shawn Smith, Matt Langdale, Tyler Real and Josh Bacon also made an impact at the invitational. Johnson obtained 4th place in the 60m, clocking in at 7.06 and took 9th place in the 200m running a time of 22.32 seconds.

Along with Johnson, Smith got 11th place in the 60m with a time of 7.15 seconds, and 26th place in the 200m, running a time of 23.17 seconds. Smith and Johnson also did well in the long jump, both reaching lengths of 21 feet. Smith received 11th place while Johnson received 12th.

Bacon also competed in the long jump, overcoming a distance of 19 feet, 7 inches, which put him in 21st place. Langdale ran the mile in 4:23.62 and came in 8th place. Real got 6th place in the 60m hurdles, finishing with a time of 8.42 seconds.

The Lady Rams had a great turnout Friday night as well. Most of the athletes left the invitational with their heads held high. Sam Smarkola finished fifth in the 400m with a time of 58.62 seconds, which gave her the third-fastest time at WCU and the fourth-best in the PSAC this winter.

Smarkola also finished 16th in the 200m, finishing with a time of 26.54 seconds. Her time is seventh at WCU and eighth in the PSAC so far this season. Smarkola hopes to do well personally and as a team at the PSAC Championships.

“The goals that I have for myself at PSAC’s would be to hopefully place and score some points for the team in one of my events. Last year I placed 9th in two events, so I just missed placing, so I would definitely love to step that up a little bit and boost our teams score. As for the team, I just want everyone to go out and run their best. I think everyone kind of feels the same way and hopes that we can move up a little bit in the conference and gain a little more respect. We have some really good athletes on the team, so I’m really excited to see what they’ll be able to do.”

Other impressive athletes include Danielle Howell, who qualified for the PSAC Championships in the 400m by clocking in at 1:01.98, which put her in 35th place. Lindsey Nygren ran the 400m on Friday as well, completing the race in 1:02.22, which put in her 39th place.

Nygren also ran the 800m in 2:30.62, putting her in 24th place. Along with Nygren, Leigh Gumlock-Silfies ran the 800m in 2:28.10, putting her in 20th place.

Captain, Melinda Wentz ran the 200m in 26.91 seconds, putting her in 26th place. Wentz also completed the 60m hurdles in 10th place with a time of 9.57 seconds. Nicole Reaves came in 42nd place in the 60m dash with a time of 8.65 seconds. Katie Butler ran the 60m hurdles, completing the race in 10.01 seconds, which helped her obtain 23rd place. Butler received 3rd in the high jump, which was a distance of 1.60m.

Brittany Foye and Miriam Hughes took part in the triple jump. Foye got 5th place with a jump of 10.90m, and Hughes got 18th place with10.29m.

The PSAC Championships are quickly approaching.

“We’ve been training really hard to prepare for PSAC’s,” Smarkola said. “The snow did create some issues with practicing but since we have off this weekend from meets, we’ve been stepping things up at practice and doing some really tough workouts. Next week we’ll probably take things easier just so our legs will be fresh for the big meet.”

The Rams hope to do well at the PSAC Championships taking place on Feb. 26 in Edinboro, PA at 2:00 p.m. All of the athletes have improved in their events throughout the course of the season. Expectantly, they will continue to strive at PSAC’s and represent the purple and gold well.

Jillian Morgan is a third-year student majoring in communication studies. She can be reached at

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