MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Four new Mountaineer track and field athletes qualified for the BIG EAST Championships with strong performances Saturday at the Sykes & Sabock Challenge Cup in State College, Pa.
In its third trip to Penn State in a month, West Virginia was led by league-qualifying marks by Jenna Barreto, Stephanie Caruso, Hallie Portner and Lindsay Kopenhaver, in addition to lifetime-best marks by several Mountaineers.
“I am quite pleased to have added so many new names to the BIG EAST roster,” says WVU coach Sean Cleary. “We certainly have a few more holes to fill before we line up in two weeks at BIG EAST, but we also need to make good decisions to stay healthy.”
Already qualified for BIG EAST, redshirt sophomore Chené Townsend matched last year’s season-best mark of 8.53 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles to place second overall for the event finals Saturday. Just before, she placed third in the preliminaries at 8.64 seconds.
Sophomore Jenna Barreto made the league cut in the 400-meter dash by finishing in 57.42 seconds, good for 16th place in the event.
“Townsend was the highlight of the day,” says WVU coach Sean Cleary. “Matching her best time from last winter, she looks primed for BIG EAST. Barreto ran her lifetime-best in the indoor 400. As she gains more confidence, she will continue to improve.”
Senior Stephanie Caruso and redshirt junior Hallie Portner also qualified for the first time this season with their respective 5:05.14 and 5:07.49 times in the mile run, earning the 5:08 requirement.
In the pole vault, junior Lindsay Kopenhaver earned her first BIG EAST mark of the year by vaulting the required 3.55 meters, placing 15th on Saturday. Sophomore Katlyn Shelar placed ninth with a vault of 3.70 meters.
“We added a few milers to the BIG EAST field in Caruso and Portner,” Cleary says. “They had their best times of the winter. We feel confident that both will break five minutes by winter’s end. Kopenhaver joins Shelar in the BIG EAST – I’m very proud of her. Our hope is that this will boost her confidence over the next few weeks.”
Other highlights included high jumpers Sydney Cummings’ and Katelyn Williams’ respective first- and second-place finishes at 1.73 meters. Stephanie Aldea placed seventh in the 800 meters in 2:13.22, while Sarah Martinelli placed fourth in the 3,000-meter run in 9:55.99.
The Mountaineers return home this week to host the Blue-Gold Meet scheduled for Friday, Feb. 10, at noon at the Shell Building.