SIUE’s track and field teams opened their outdoor season at the Coastal Carolina Invitational in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, last weekend with some standout performances.
In the two-day invitational, the Cougars took first place in seven events. The jumpers pulled off a near sweep, winning every event aside from women’s high jump.
“Everybody either performed well straight out or showed the pieces of the puzzle that they’ll need to put together in the future, so it was really encouraging,” Assistant Coach Joey Pacione said.
For the jumpers, senior Julian Harvey took first in both high jump and long jump for his first meet since the 2017 indoor season. He was followed in the long jump by sophomore jumper Logan Webb in second and freshman jumper DeVonte Tincher in third. Webb also took first in the triple jump.
Senior jumper Brittney Gibbs earned first in the women’s triple jump, and junior jumper Nichyria Byrd took first in the long jump. Gibbs’ jump of 41 feet 1.75 inches was her longest since 2016.
Gibbs said her performance boosted her confidence for the outdoor season after having a shaky indoor season.
“It was a breakthrough meet for me, and it set me up really good for the rest of the outdoor season. It was the first meet, so I already know the season is just going to be one of my best seasons ever,” Gibbs said.
According to Pacione, the outdoor season does not normally start until the end of March rather than the middle, so he was impressed with the solid performances so quickly after the end of the indoor season.
“For a lot of them, I know it was kind of the confidence boost they needed to jump-start their outdoor season,” Pacione said.
On the throwers’ side, senior thrower Nick Matthews claimed first place and threw a new personal record of 60.23 meters in the hammer throw. He said the throwers did not have ideal practice facilities at Myrtle Beach during the week leading into the meet, so his high mark was surprising to him.
“It really surprised coach how we were able to perform after a pretty rough week at practice, but hitting those kind of marks this early in the season really gives you a look at what the future of this season is going to look like,” Matthews said.
During the indoor season, Matthews and the other throwers comped in the weight throw, since the hammer throw is only an outdoor event.
Matthews said this transition is difficult, but it will be one of his focuses throughout the next few weeks.
Senior thrower Martinus Mitchell also had a solid outing with second place in both discus and shot put. Senior thrower Lizzie Virgl took first in the women’s hammer throw and fourth in the javelin.
For the runners, sophomore distance runner Aly Goff won the 1500-meter for the Cougars with a personal record.
The Cougars will not have a meet this upcoming weekend, but they will travel to Carbondale, Illinois, on Friday, March 23 for the Bill Cornell Classic. Pacione said the team should continue to see standout performances after preparing for the outdoor season throughout the indoor season.
“We spent all of indoor building, so hopefully in outdoor, when we show up to Carbondale and all the meets after that, we should be able to do well right away,” Pacione said.