During the weekend, the women’s and men’s track and field teams competed in the 2016 Ohio Valley Conference Track. The athletes competed with high levels of energy and enjoyed immense amount of success, with the women’s team placing in seventh and the men’s team placing in fifth.
Jumping Coach Joey Pacione said the it was wonderful to watch the meet and see all the athletes break records.
“The meet was just awesome,” Pacione said. “The highs were as high as they can be, and I felt there weren’t any lows because so many athletes had great performances.”
Pacione said one the biggest standout moments of the meet was junior jumper Julian Harvey qualifying for the NCAA Championship.
“The biggest highlight was definitely Julian Harvey qualifying for nationals in the long jump,” Pacione said. “He also broke the school record for the long jump and the triple jump, which was great.”
Pacione said there were obstacles that he saw Harvey had to face such as the high jump, but he felt Harvey was able to conquer them.
“For Julian early on, he competed in three events which was the high jump, long jump and the triple jump,” Pacione said. “Going into the meet, he was a favorite, and he had the highest jump early in the year, but he ended up losing the high jump. But he wound up breaking both school records for the long jump and the triple jump, so he was able to overcome losing the high jump.”
During the meet, Pacione said there were many athletes who had highlight moments.
“There were a ton of standout performances,” Pacione said. “Honestly, the strength of our team had quality, and anyone who did well did extremely well.”
Freshman thrower Nick Matthews placed second in the weight throw and also achieved a personal best. Sophomore distance runner Matt O’Connor placed third in the 800 meter, achieving a personal best and was less than 1/10 of breaking the school record. Junior distance runner Keith Meyer placed second in the 5K run, and senior mid-distance Derek Drew placed third in the 400-meter-dash.
On the women’s side, junior thrower Megan Lauzon placed 2nd in the weight throw and also achieved a personal best. Senior mid-distance runner Jessika Oranika placed second in the 400-meter dash, breaking the school record. Junior thrower Claire Nolan set a personal best and was less than an inch away from breaking the school record.
Pacione said although the athletes had performed at a high level of energy, there are always improvements that can be made.
“Going into the meet as a team, we had higher expectations,” Pacione said. “As a whole, our team can still improve. On the men’s side, we wanted to get third, but we finished in fifth, and on the women’s side, we wanted to get fourth, but we finished in seventh, so as a whole entire team, we can still stand for improvement.”
Distance Coach Kayla Brown said the meet was very exhilarating and she was pleased with their performances.
“It was an exciting conference,” Brown said. “It was great seeing what they can do against rivals. Since the conference focuses on team points, it was great to see the team working together as a whole.”
Being that general meets are performed differently than conference meets, Brown said she was proud to see the athletes perform at such a high level.
“I think the biggest difference is that the conference is not focused on personal bests,” Brown said. “If a competitor pulls one result, you have to be able to match it, so the competition is now more so about the race, but I think everybody went out there and gave it their best.”
Brown said she was happy to see Harvey qualify for nationals since it is a goal Harvey has been chasing.
“It was awesome for him,” Brown said. “They pick the top 16 from the indoor conference, so it is a high achievement to make that, so it will be great exposure for our school and team, and it couldn’t have happened to a better athlete.”
Although the indoor season is over, Brown said she is looking forward to the future.
“I think it just shows what’s to come,” Brown said. “It shows what the athletes can do coming towards outdoor, as well as kind of thinking about new goals and how they can improve themselves.”
With breaking records as well as qualifying for nationals, Harvey said he was pleased with the way he performed at the 2016 OVC Indoor Track and Field Championship.
“I was very proud of my performance,” Harvey said. “I think that I had the ability to hit the mark I wanted to hit. I just kept on jumping and jumped the best that I could.”
Harvey said it was surreal to achieve his goal of qualifying for the NCAA Championship.
“It feels amazing,” Harvey said. “It feels great because I’ve never made nationals, so that was definitely a huge shock, so it is the best accomplishment that I have made in track so far.”
Since this is his first time competing on a national level, Harvey said he just wants to go and have fun.
“At this point, since it is my first time competing in nationals, I just want to go there and enjoy the meet,” Harvey said. “I just want to jump to the best that I can, and wherever I end up, I have no regrets because I just want to continue to do my best.”
Harvey said he is proud of his performance this season, but looking forward to making some improvements for next season.
“I think I could do more on improving my technique work,” Harvey said. “This is my first season with my coach, so I want to just keep getting to know him and his training as well just keep on working hard.”