Since the outdoor season has begun, the Rams have shown a lot of hard work. Whether it is in practices or in meets, the track and field team has proven their dedication through their athletes’ performances and as a team. “We are currently six weeks out from our PSAC Outdoor Championships (May 13-15, hosted at WCU), so the coming weeks are extremely important in our preparation for the championships,” Coach Keiser said. “I believe that in the coming weeks we should see considerable improvements with times and distances. The first couple weeks of the outdoor season often tend to be a transition phase from the indoor season, and we will now start to see events start to ‘click’ for much of the team.”
Between the weeks of March 26 and April 3, West Chester University’s track and field team competed at the Danny Curran Invite at Widener University, as well as the Millersville Spring Opener at Biemesderfer Stadium. The Rams did an exceptional job at both meets and will continue to strive throughout the rest of the season.
On March 26, the Golden Rams competed in the Danny Curran Invite at Widener University. WCU’s 4x100m relay team were first in their event, which consisted of Leighon Johnson, Matt Houser, Josh Bacon and Shawn Smith. The relay team clocked in at 42.68 seconds.
“I think we will be pretty strong this year with the addition of new coaches which will really help out in both the sprints and jump groups,” Bacon said. “We really have some great athletes this year; Tyler Real, Leighon Johnson, Matt Houser, Craig Espenshade and Shawn Smith just to name a few who will surprise the PSAC this year.”
Among Bacon’s list of strong athletes, Real took home the gold in the 110m hurdles. Real finished the race with a time of 14.99 seconds. Aside from Real, Johnson was the only other individual winner, who took the gold in the 100m dash. He completed the race in 10.98 seconds. Shawn Smith placed fourth in the 100m dash in 11.14 seconds, right behind Johnson.
The 4x400m relay team placed second overall with a time of 3:22.42. The relay team is run by Matt Houser, Craig Espenshade, Kyle Perry and Leighon Johnson. Among the runners of the 4×400 team, Espenshade also finished second in the 400m in 49.77 seconds.
The women’s track and field team brought home one gold medal along with one silver medal at the Danny Curran Invite. The Lady Ram who earned the gold medal was Melinda Wentz, by finishing the 400m hurdles in 1:05.86. Lyndsey Nygren also ran the 400m hurdles, completing the race in 1:08.62, which put her in fourth place.
Aside from the 400m hurdles, Wentz also ran the 110m hurdles, finishing in 15.92 seconds.
Katie Butler completed the 110m hurdles with a time of 16.65 seconds, putting her in fourth place.
Butler also participated in the high jump, clearing 5 feet, 3 _ inches. Brittany Foye tied for fifth place in the long jump with a leap of 15-10 inches. Foye was runner-up in the triple jump (34-10 ¬). Miriam Hughes battled for the Rams in the long jump, tying for fifth with a distance of 15-10 inches and placing third in the triple jump (34-4).
Kamber Schrann received the silver medal for the Rams, clearing exactly 10 feet in the pole vault competition.
At the Millersville Spring Opener on April 3, both Smith and Johnson picked up first place showings. Smith conquered the long jump with a leap of 22 feet, 5 _ inches to receive his gold medal. Alongside Smith, Johnson won the 200m dash with a time of 21.98 seconds.
Johnson also competed in the long jump. He came in seventh place with a distance of 21 3 ¬ inches.
Johnson also participated in the 4x100m relay team, which consists of himself, Houser, Bacon and Smith. The 4x100m relay team came in second and the 4x400m relay team placed fourth.
Espendshade, the anchor of the 4x400m relay team, finished in fifth place in the 400m with a time of 49.00 seconds. The first three legs of the 4×400 are Kyle Perry, Johnson and Houser.
Houser also finished fourth in the 200m with a time of 22.32 seconds.
Real placed fourth in the 110m hurdles with a time of 15.68 seconds. Real also placed eighth in the 400m intermediate hurdles in 57.25 seconds.
Kyle Miller placed fifth in the pole vault, clearing 14-1 ¬ inches.
The women’s track and field team recorded four top-eight finishes at the Millersville Spring Opener. Wentz finished sixth in the 110m hurdles with a time of 15.89 seconds. She also came in sixth place in the 400m hurdles (1:09.34), fourth in the long jump (16’5″) and tied for seventh place in the high jump (4-11 _).
Miriam Hughes leapt 33-6 _ inches while Aimee Sitch came in eighth with a jump of 32’3″. Hughes also competed in the 200m dash completing the race in 27.21 seconds which put her in fifth place. Mackenzie Lauro also competed in the 200m dash, finishing in seventh place with a time of 27.35 seconds.
Lyndsay Nygren finished the 400m hurdles in 1:08.23, which helped her to top Wentz. Danielle Howell was also a spot behind Wentz in the 400m hurdles, completing the race in 1:10.26.
Howell and Nygren, half of WCU’s 4x400m relay team, contributed to their fifth place finish in 4:07.93. The other two 4x400m realy contributors are Brigid Gallagher and Mary Gawbill.
Butler tied for fourth place in the high jump with a distance of 5″ 1 _ inches and received eighth place in the 110m hurdles (16.20).
Lyndsey Ratasiewicz came in fifth place in the 1500m, breaking the ribbon in 4:49.96 along with finishing seventh place in the 3000m with a time of 10:42.37. Jess Joseph came in sixth in the 5000m (19:40.51).
Coach Keiser is proud of the athletes on his team, and has high expectations for this season and upcoming seasons as well.
“As coaches we tend to be perfectionists, and I believe improvements can always be made,” Keiser said. “Track is a rare sport in which we don’t keep score with anyone until the arrival of a championship meet. It is that championship meet in which we throw all of our marbles, hoping that we are well prepared. I have the ultimate confidence in the workouts and in the effort of the athletes that they will be prepared.”
Keiser heavily relies on the leadership of his older players to motivate the primarily young team.
“The women’s side is still very young and inexperienced, but very talented.” Keiser said. “Being that the women are still so young, they are still learning every day. There continues to be improvement throughout every week and every meet, and I expect to see great things over the next few years.”
The Rams competed in the WCU Collegiate Invite at home on April 9 and 10. The results of the meet will be posted in next week’s article. Also, the men’s 4x100m relay team and 4x400m relay team will be competing in the Penn Relays on Friday, April 23. The Rams will also be hosting their last home meet on Saturday, April 24. Lastly, they will host the PSAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Farrell Stadium May 13-15.
Jillian Morgan is a third-year student majoring in communication studies. She can be reached at JM652349@wcupa.edu.