SIUE track and field faced stiff competition this weekend at the Bill Cornell Classic in Carbondale, Illinois, but were still able to come away with solid individual results.

These results included five personal records for the distance runners along with several top-three finishes in other events.

“I think all of the athletes were looking forward to competing against high-level competition, and they all thrive doing that,” Assistant Coach Joey Pacione said.

Pacione added that the weather was also a big factor in the meet.

“A lot of them really performed well, period, but, especially given the cold weather, [they] really encouraged us for future performances,” Pacione said.

For the distance runners, junior Allie Sweatt, sophomore Keri Burmester, sophomore Landon Skelly, sophomore Austin Woodard and sophomore Kevin Campbell all set personal bests in the 1500m. Aly Goff took third place in the women’s 1500, but did not reach a personal best.

Senior jumper Julian Harvey continued his success by winning the long jump for the second meet in a row. His jump of 24 feet 7.75 inches qualified him for the regional meet at the end of the season.

“That was a really nice accomplishment this early in the season,” Pacione said.

On the women’s side, senior Brittney Gibbs and junior Nichyria Byrd placed second and third in triple jump, respectively. Byrd’s jump was also a personal record.

The throwers’ success was highlighted by senior Martinus Mitchell’s third place finish in the discus and senior Nick Matthews’ fourth place finish in the hammer throw. Mitchell said he was satisfied with the results considering the cold weather and strong competition.

“I was expecting to go there and compete against some of the top athletes in the country and some people overall who show how hard work pays off,” Mitchell said.

Lizzie Virgl competed in discus and took sixth in the hammer throw. Virgl said she wasn’t thrilled with her performance, but the factor of cold weather showed she may come close to a regional mark by the end of the season.

“If we could have handled last weekend’s weather, I think we could handle anything,” Virgl said.

The Cougars will be back in action at the Joey Haines Invitational Friday, March 30 and Saturday, March 31 in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Pacione said the competition will be tough once again, but he is looking forward to strengthening each athlete in their best events to prepare for the rest of the season.

“The competition should be good again, and the weather should be a little better. I’m very excited for it; I expect the kids will continue to build on what they’ve been doing all season,” Pacione said.

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