Track and field has strong weekend at Kutztown

Shippensburg University’s indoor track-and-field team closed its regular season Saturday with a strong performance at Kutztown University’s Six-Team Challenge.

Four first-place finishes highlighted the day for the Raiders, with Caleb Bartlett and Tim Usher leading the charge.

Bartlett kicked off the top performers for the men, as he returned from injury to win the weight throw with his toss of 56 feet and 9 1/2 inches, an NCAA-provisional qualifier. The Top 3 finishers all represent SU, with Alec Rideout and Bryan Pearson filling the second and third slots. Rideout and Pearson’s shots were also Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) qualifiers.

Rideout had a banner day, marking his best shot put of the season with his throw of 56 feet and 5 3/4 inches. Rideout finished the competition with a win on that throw, registering an NCAA qualifier in the process.

Usher rounds out the runners, clinching another first-place finish with his 2:00.31 run in the 800-meter. Matt Gross glided to another first-place finish in the mile, clocking in at 4:32.42.

For the women, Sarah Hunt was shot out of a cannon for the Raiders with two first-place finishes. Her 55-meter dash missed breaking the school record by one one-hundredth of a second with a time of 7.22 seconds. Her converted time to the 60-meter dash sits at 7.78, a new personal best and just 0.01 seconds off breaking another school record. Hunt’s run gives her another PSAC qualifying time on the season.

The women put up six first-place finishes, covering half of the events on the day for the Raiders. Hunt’s long jump has been a specialty all season long, and Saturday was no different. Hunt paced the team and the competition in the long jump with an NCAA qualifier, SU’s best event on the day. The Raiders secured each of the Top 5 spots in the long jump, and added six of the top eight places. Alyssa Sitch and Olivia Lee both recorded new personal records in the long jump.

Paige Shirk had a stand-out performance, grabbing first place with a PSAC qualifying weight throw, and tacked on a third-place finish in the shot put, missing out on breaking 40 feet by just three inches.

The lone Raider in the 3,000-meter run was Lindsey Gerlach. She represented SU well, grabbing a first-place finish of her own.

But perhaps the biggest improvement on the day was set off by Kali Hepner, who smashed her personal record in the pole vault, clearing 12 feet for the first time in her indoor career. Hepner’s previous best was more than six inches lower than Saturday’s pole vault, as she has set a new indoor PR three weeks in a row.

Head coach Dave Osanitsch has a week to make his final adjustments to his teams before the Raiders pack their bags for Edinboro University.

After wrapping up the season, the PSAC Championships loom on the horizon. The men will look to defend the team’s previous six-straight championships. The women won five of the past seven championships, so both teams will be locked in for another gold. PSAC’s kick off Feb. 25.

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