Jacks racing to build confidence

By ROBERT MYERS Sports Editor

The men’s and women’s track and field teams boosted their confidence amidst personal bests and strong performances as they split their teams up to compete in both the Nebraska Tune-up and also the South Dakota Twilight meet on Friday and Saturday.

Head Coach Rod DeHaven said he sent many of his athletes to the Nebraska Tune-up in Lincoln, Neb. because of the fast times the track has historically produced. 

“Athletes, I think, read a lot into their performance and the times they get in terms of confidence,” DeHaven said. “We were trying to set them up with races that they felt good about, confidence that they can carry into the conference meet.”

Overall DeHaven was pleased with the progress his team made in building that confidence and especially with how his women’s distance runners performed.

Though a sprinter, and not a member of the distance group DeHaven mentioned, Junior Gina Fritz pulled off the Jackrabbit’s top finish of the weekend as she finished second in the 200-meter dash at the Nebraska Tune-up. Her time of 24.99 seconds was the third fastest in SDSU history.

“She ran a very aggressive race, her best race of the season to date,” DeHaven said. “Hopefully that’s something she can continue doing heading into the conference meet.”

Also performing well in Lincoln were Brooke Peterson who finished third in the 1000-meter run with her time of 3:02.06 and Megan West who was narrowly edged out by Nebraska’s Isabel Andrade and finished third in the 3000-meter run in 10:10.21. 

Jeremiah Ary had the best finish on the men’s side, taking second in the long jump with a distance of 6.95 meters. He also finished fifth in the triple jump with a distance of 13.81 meters.

Another top finish came from Brendan Sage who crossed the line sixth in the 3000 meter-run with a time of 8:40.26.

In Vermillion, Bennett Mercil had the men’s top finish, placing third in the long jump with a distance of 6.33 meters. Leandre Kennedy added a fifth place finish in the 60-meter dash, which he ran in 7.07 seconds.

Also for the men, Cullen Mack came in sixth place in the weight throw. His throw went 16.69 meters, just two centimeters out of fifth place and nine centimeters out of fourth place. Kyle Anderson’s 59.16 meter throw was good for another sixth place finish in the shot put.

The women’s throwers had even more success as Shelby Assmus’14.32 meter throw was good for third in the shot put and Amy Paulzine finished third in the weight throw with her distance of 16.71 meters.

Also earning a top finish for the women was Erica Meyer who came in sixth in the 800-meter dash with her time of 2:23.47.

Lying in wait for the Jacks are the Summit League Indoor Championships, which will be held Friday, Feb. 28 and Saturday, March 1 in Fort Wayne, Ind. at the IPFW Athletics Center.

SDSU will be facing tough competition in that meet, and from looking at the times and distances his athletes have achieved at this point in the season DeHaven believes both teams would finish fourth, but on the men’s side he thinks strong performances could propel the team into third place over Western Illinois. 

“If we have a really, really, good meet we could maybe fight our way into third place which is going to be the goal, but we’ll need some kind of uncharted type performances to make that happen,” DeHaven said. “And if we don’t compete with a lot of heart, a lot of passion, then we’ll be fourth and probably not even close to third.”