In the heat and stress of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) championships, the Shippensburg University men’s track-and-field team repeated as conference champions for the ninth year in a row, earning 118 points, beating second-place East Stroudsburg University by 38 points at Edinboro University.
Both the men and women athletes were thrown off-guard Friday night when SU coach David Osanitsch announced that the two-day meet would be squeezed into one long day. This meant there would no longer be trials for the 400 and 200-meter races, and some athletes who competed in multiple events would have to step out of relays to be fresh for others.
The men started off the chaotic meet with a sixth-place finish in the distance medley relay, scoring three points. The team consisted of seniors Connor Holm, Dominic Stroh, Sean Weidner and freshman Josh Booth. The team’s final time was 10:26.73 seconds.
In the beginning, it was anyone’s game but soon things began to come together and the men dominated their conference competition.
Redshirt-junior Charles Bowman was named the Most Valuable Athlete of the meet, and freshman Shamar Jenkins, the Outstanding Field Athlete of the championships.
The men’s 60-meter hurdles was strong like always, with Bowman taking first with a time of 8.12 seconds, scoring 10 points for the Raiders and running an NCAA-provisional time. Right behind was senior Ori Rinaman placing second with a time of 8.14 seconds, taking eight points and also running an NCAA-provisional time.
The 4x400 was an even bigger success, with the powerhouse team of Bowman, redshirt-freshman Aaron Arp Jr., sophomore Austin Padmore and senior Johnathan Stiles claiming a new meet record in the event. The Raiders defeated their closest opponent — Seton Hill University — by more than three seconds.
Jenkins said he was not going home without a first-place plaque. Not only did he earn that plaque, he claimed another on his way to being named the outstanding athlete in the field for the meet. His 6.92-meter jump in the long jump was good enough for one of his titles. He then had an impressive jump of 14.99 in the triple for his second top finish of the competiton.
Junior Rob Moser placed fourth in the 5K race with a time of 15:12.23 seconds, scoring five points for the team. Not too far behind was graduate student Albert Schrimp, grabbing seventh and two points for the Raiders, running a solid 15:20.95. Both athletes also placed in the 3K, with Moser claiming fifth and Schrimp, seventh.
Stiles took second in the 400-meter race in 48.25 seconds, scoring eight points for the Raiders with another national-provisional time.
For the 60-meter dash, senior Dreux Stamford placed second and was .001 seconds short of his personal best, with a final time of 6.875 seconds. Stamford earned six points for the Raiders and also ran a national-provisional time. Right behind Stamford was freshman Roland Miles, taking third and scoring six points with a time of 6.878.
Stroh took first in the mile for yet another year, scoring 10 points with a crucial lean at the finish with a time of 4:24.54 seconds. Stroh finished third in the event his freshman and sophomore seasons, but took first his final two seasons as a Raider. He earned All-PSAC honors every year of his career.
The men took sixth and seventh in the 200-meter dash as well, with Arp Jr. taking sixth with a 22.23-second time and senior Chris Craig scoring two points with a 22.25 finish.
In the men’s weight throw, junior Cam Strohe took sixth with an impressive distance of 15.98 meters for three points.
The men were successful in the shot put circle with sophomore Jacob Gieringer taking fourth and five points for SU with a throw of 15.97 meters. Gieringer’s performance was a new PR as he earned his second consecutive Top-5 finish. Freshman Yobani Moreno threw 14.82 meters, taking two points for a sixth-place finish, followed by Strohe in eighth with a 14.74-meter throw.
Strohe thought the throws squad had a strong showing at the championships. “Overall, the throws squad did very well. There were three or four PRs and we all competed very hard. We are expecting big things this outdoor season,” Strohe said.
Senior David Brantley earned 3,219 points to take sixth place in the pentathlon. Brantley completes his collegiate career with a scoring performance in all four championship appearances. He matched his PR in the hurdles (8.70 seconds) on his way to another strong showing, despite his two best events — the pole vault and the 60-meter dash — getting cut from the competition.
Osanitsch praised his team’s commitment after the weekend. “I was happy with the team effort under adverse circumstances with the conference meet being moved to a one-day meet. They persevered and battled to our consecutive ninth PSAC championship,” Osanitsch said.
The women’s team took third overall with 85.5 points behind Kutztown University (100.5 points) and Slippery Rock University (89.33 points). The women had some outstanding performances, with the result coming down to the last two events, but SU could not pull ahead.
The women’s distance medley relay was the first event on the track, as the Raiders finished sixth in 12:57.37, earning three points. The team consisted of juniors Maria Antoni, Cirsten Kelly, Abby Lee and freshman Kaylee Mowery.
In the women’s 5K, sophomore Natalee Serwatka placed third for the Raiders, earning six points with a time of 18:14.47. In fifth was senior Jackie Kinkead, who contributed four points with a time of 18:28.17.
The women’s 4x800 team earned one point with its eighth-place finish, as freshmen Kayla Gonzalez, Sydney Morgan, Kyra Gerber and senior Lindsey Gerlach grabbed a time of 10:00.11.
Senior Tatiana Purnell ran 8.99 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles earning the team eight points for her second-place finish.
Freshman Ali Wyland took third in the 60-meter with her 7.77-second run in the final after breaking the school record in the preliminary rounds with a time of 7.72 seconds. Her performance was worthy of All-PSAC recognition as she claimed the best finish in the history of the event at the championships for the Raiders.
The 3K was strong for the women, with Serwatka back on the track running 10:25.02 for third and six more points. Along with Serwatka was sophomore Isabella Marchini scoring three points in sixth place with a time of 10:31.86
The women’s 4x400 excited the whole squad like usual with four outstanding splits for Purnell, Gonzalez, Alston and sophomore Rachel Bruno. The team took third place, less than one second behind Seton Hill with a time of 4:02.32.
In the women’s pentathlon, senior Kali Dawson took third with 3,129 points, earning six points for the team. Dawson followed a long day in the pentathlon by competing in the high jump, grabbing seventh with her 1.60-meter jump.
In the women’s long jump, junior Zarria Williams scored third, earning six points with a 5.64-meter jump. Senior Abby Wagner took sixth, jumping 5.42 meters for three more points. Wagner also took first in the triple jump, scoring 10 points with a 12.14-meter jump. Her first-place finish was the only one of the day for the SU women.
The women’s shot put featured sophomore Ashley Kerr, who continues to impress with a fifth-place finish on a 12.48-meter throw. She was followed by sophomore Kate Matrisciano in sixth, throwing 12.43 meters to score three points for the Raiders.
After the meet, Osanitsch said he thought the women could have placed better, but he was proud of their hard work, regardless.
“Though disappointed with a third place finish, I was pleased with the effort put forth by many members of the squad. Ali Wyland’s school record in the 60 dash and Abby Wagner’s triple jump win and meet record were some of our highlights. We will rally the team for outdoors and do our best to defend our outdoor title,” Osanitsch said.
Both squads will now look toward the national championships at the beginning of March and the start of the outdoor season at the end of March. The Division II NCAA championships kick off from Pittsburg State University in Kansas on March 8.