The wait was well worth it.
After their 2020 season fell victim to the unrelenting coronavirus pandemic, the Shippensburg University men’s and women’s outdoor track-and-field teams reached the end of a strenuous and taxing road Saturday, competing in their first outdoor collegiate meet in two years.
The teams were split between the Elliston Earlybird Open at Lock Haven University, and the West Chester Tri-Meet at West Chester University’s home track.
Despite the two-year hiatus, the Raiders showed to be in near midseason form, with an abundance of SU runners having career days, some even breaking records.
Freshman Leah Graybill wasted no time in her outdoor debut at West Chester. The 2020 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Women’s Indoor Track and Field Freshman of the Year added another record-shattering performance to her growing resume of school records.
In the 100-meter dash, Graybill posted a time of 12.32, good enough for the meet record. She followed that up with another first-place finish in the 200-meter dash, notching a time of 24.93.
Fellow freshman Lieke Black also impressed in her outdoor debut, placing first in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1.06.86. In the same heat, SU freshman Megan Kendall and redshirt-sophomore Malayna Rowe took home second and third place. Kendall saw first-place success earlier in the day in the 100-meter hurdles.
Junior basketball star Ariel Jones tallied first in the women’s triple jump at 11.38 meters, later capturing second in the women’s high jump only to place behind new meet record holder, Kutztown University’s Rebecca Hemingway.
Senior Zarria Williams hit 5.60 meters in the women’s long jump, earning her the first-place spot.
For the men’s team, freshman Eric Kirk made quite the splash in his first outdoor appearance, snagging first-place marks in the 100 and 200-meter dash with times of 10.89 and 22.24. He bested graduate student and teammate Charles Bowman Jr. in the 200-meter dash. However, Bowman already claimed a first-place crowning of his own in the 110-meter hurdles at 14.54, .07 seconds off the meet record.
Other notables at the tri-meet included sophomores Nate Reed and Jordan Winslow. Reed ran away with first place in the men’s long jump and javelin throw, while Winslow claimed the top spot in the men’s high jump. Junior Shaquille Mitchell also contributed to the Raider first-place marks, finishing first in the men’s triple jump.
Up at Lock Haven, the Raiders throwing group totaled a combined four first-place finishes.
Paving the way was sophomore Patrick Maloney, who claimed the top seedings in both the men’s discus and hammer throw. Maloney’s best throws measured at 48.32 meters (discus) and 54.76 meters (hammer).
On the women’s side, sophomore Madisen Kling and junior Kate Matrisciano each notched first in their respective events. Kling captured first in the discus throw, while Matrisciano rallied around her teammate in shot put, placing first there. Matrisciano barely trailed Kling in discus, a mere .59 meters behind.
Senior Cam Strohe, sophomore Joshua Herbster and sophomore Brooks Bear also served as SU’s top throwers, racking up multiple Top 5 placings each.
For the runners, freshman Drew Dailey, who was coming off a ninth-place finish at the PSAC Championships in cross-country, seemed to carry over the momentum from last Saturday. Dailey, who also earned 2020 PSAC Men’s Indoor Track and Field Freshman of the Year and 2020 PSAC Indoor Championships Most Valuable Athlete honors, posted first-place times of 1:54.40 and 3:58.13 in the 800 and 1,500-meters.
Freshman Hayden Hunt finished second in the 5,000-meters, hitting a time of 15:18.29, dazzling in his SU outdoor debut.
Sophomore Kyra Gerber, a 2020 All-PSAC First team honoree in cross-country, kicked off her outdoor campaign in style, placing second in the 1,500-meters and fourth in the 800-meters.
The Raiders return to the track Saturday for another split squad. They will travel to Lehigh University for the Lehigh Home Meet, or head to Millersville University for the Millersville Metrics. The Lehigh meet is slated for 10 a.m., while a time at Millersville has yet to be announced.