Despite the loss of a cherished teammate, the women’s indoor track and field team came flying out of the gates at the Bison Opener at Bucknell University.
The Raiders pushed through an emotional weekend following the death of the team’s record-holding thrower and senior leader Tamara Ovejera. The group stepped up big for their teammate, posting 16 PSAC qualifiers and two NCAA-provisional marks.
Knocking off a five-year-old record to kick off the weekend was senior Kali Hepner, who broke open the 2017-18 season by taking flight in the pole vault to beat Megan Breski’s 2012 record, clearing 12 feet for just the second time in her career. Hepner’s vault of 12 feet, 3 1/2 inches was good for an NCAA provisional qualifier and first place at the meet.
Hepner was not the only Raider to make a statement at the start of this season, though. Sophomore Sarah Bourdon made her debut with Shippensburg, clearing league standard height with her jump of 10 feet, 10 inches and grabbing her first PSAC qualifier with SU.
Rounding out the jumps was Danielle Sciremammano, who took third in the long jump and her first PSAC qualifier of the season, just besting 18 feet with a jump of 18 feet, 0 1/4 inches in her first meet of the year. Sciremammano was not finished with PSAC qualifiers there, though, as the redshirt senior grabbed the second fastest time in the 60-meter hurdles, locking in a PSAC-qualifying finish of 8.86 seconds to lead the Raiders.
The team took over in sprints, with four different runners breaking the PSAC-qualifying mark in their respective events. In the 60-meter dash, Jill Bertino led the way taking second place. The Raiders went on to take three of the top five spots in the 200-meter dash, including both first and second place. Bertino again led the charge, taking first place in the 200-meter dash with a time of 26.48 seconds, good for her second PSAC qualifier on the day.
Shippensburg’s Dior Alston blazed the trail for SU, registering a first-place finish for the Raiders in the 400-meter dash with a time of 59.19. Alston was the only Raider to beat the one-minute mark in the 400.
Redshirt Senior Paige Shirk stepped up huge for SU in the shot put and weight throw, dominating both events to get two first-place finishes for Shippensburg. Shirk’s monster throw of 45 feet, 4 1/2 inches in the shot put the Raiders on top, but SU continued showing its depth in the event with Ava Bonetti’s PSAC-qualifying throw of 43 feet, 4 1/4 inches.
Shirk and Bonetti teamed up again in the weight throw, with both notching PSAC qualifiers in the process. Shirk’s throw was good enough for first place again, with Bonetti grabbing fourth for Shippensburg.
SU finished the meet with eight Top-2 finishes over 10 events. The team heads back to Shippensburg with some time to continue training and prepare for the next meet. Track and field regroups again to head back to Bucknell to compete in the Gulden Invitational Saturday, Jan. 20.