MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Starting the outdoor season with a successful opening to the Wake Forest Open Friday, the West Virginia track and field team sustained momentum to break additional personal and school records Saturday in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Mid-distance runner Jessica O’Connell led the way for the Mountaineers by placing first in the 3,000-meter run with a 9:30.06 finish, breaking Jennifer Davis’ 9:33.61 mark from 2005 for fourth place on the all-time WVU outdoor list for the event.
“Jessica looks to be shaping into the form that saw her win last year’s indoor BIG EAST 3,000 meter,” says WVU coach Sean Cleary. “It has been a long road back for her. It was great to see her out front enjoying herself again. It appears she is ready to help lead this team again.”
High jumper Sydney Cummings qualified for BIG EAST competition with a 1.73-meter jump, tying her best mark from the indoor season and just short of her 1.75-meter personal record. Arielle Gaither earned a personal record in the 400-meter hurdles as she placed 19th in 1:05.55, beating her old mark of 1:11.50.
“Sydney came out and picked up where she left off from indoors to start off the year and is near her top performances from last year’s outdoors, which is encouraging,” Cleary says.
Chelsea Carrier-Eades and Chené Townsend posted strong finishes in the 100-meter hurdles with their second- and third-place finishes in 13.61 and 13.89, respectively. Townsend also placed 18th in the 200-meter dash in 25.13, while Carrier-Eades finished ninth in the high jump at 1.63 meters.
“While Chelsea and Chené had nice runs to finish second and third in the hurdles, both expect more from themselves,” Cleary says. “This was a good rust buster for them.”
Freshman Letitia Propst came in 11th place in the 1,500-meter run with a 4:45.04 mark, while Josie Crouch (16th, 4:45.51) and Kelly Williams (28th, 4:54.45) also competed. Senior Meghan Mock placed fifth in the long jump with a 5.50-meter mark, while junior Heather Adams finished 16th in the discus throw at 38.80 meters.
The distance medley relay team of Chelsea Jarvis, Hallie Portner, Sarah Martinelli and Alex Klauke placed third in in 12:35.76, while the 4x100 relay team of Townsend, Carrier-Eades, Stormy Nesbit and Shakiyla Cosby came in fourth in 46.76.
A total of eight athletes qualified for league competition during the meet, bringing the overall total to 12 for the BIG EAST Outdoor Championships in May.
“This was a satisfying weekend for our group,” Cleary says. “We had a lot of winners and top-three finishes. Our kids took advantage of the great weather and competed hard. Over the next few weeks we will introduce others into the lineup and continue to improve.”
The Mountaineers have the week off before returning to action March 28-31 at the Texas Relays and Raleigh Relays.