Track & Field |
April 12, 2010
Each week of competition, University of Cincinnati head women’s track and field coach Susan Seaton and head men’s track and field coach Bill Schnier take a look back at the performances from the previous week. Coach Seaton comments about the women’s team, while coach Schnier talks about the men’s squad in their weekly Beartracks. This past week, both teams competed at the Sea Ray Relays in Knoxville, Tenn. Here are Seaton’s and Schnier’s reactions to the Sea Ray Relays.
Sea Ray Relays
Just when our efforts at the Sea Ray Relays looked as if we should just pack up and go home, Antione Drakeford ran his first 400m of the season and grabbed third place. Following a rousing ending to Friday night’s distance races, highlighted by David Barry’s energizing 10,000m race, we turned around on Saturday and went flat again. The meet itself also had its ups and downs. Friday tended to be well run and enjoyable, but Saturday was drawn out and boring. Just when most of us were wishing we were on the road home, the Bearcats 4x400 team, mediocre at best all season long, did the impossible by breaking our 1985 school record and sending us home with a charge. Evidently good and bad summed up this meet, like most others. However, the positive predominated and we returned home mostly happy.
Lest anyone miss the announcement in the previous paragraph, we set a new UC record in the 4x400, one of the oldest in our books. The quartet of Ethan Freet, Maurice Norman, Chase VanCura and Antione Drakeford went 3:09.77, good for fourth at Sea Ray and slightly better than the 3:09.93 set at the 1985 Metro Conference Championships by Byron Hill, Lewis Johnson, Rodney Johnson and Robert Pittman, all UC legends. It was not a surprise that we broke that record this year because we clearly had the runners, but since injuries to Maurice, Antione, and many others always left us short, it seemed hopeless until today. In fact no one saw it coming. The presence of Maurice and Antione seemed to motivate Ethan and Chase. All ran like gazelles and the record was ours. The only bad part was that BIG EAST rivals, Seton Hall and South Florida, were ahead of us on Saturday, so we still have plenty of work to do if we are to be really happy with this event.
There is not much doubt that David Barry’s effort in the 10,000 M., closing down the stadium at 9:30 p.m. on Friday night, was the second-most exciting Bearcat moment. Running his first-ever 10K on the track, David vowed to run a 5:00 pace, break 31:00 and qualify for the BIG EAST. His mile splits of 4:55, 4:59, 4:56, 4:58, 5:03 and 5:03 were slightly under 5:00 pace, yet it took a sizzling 65.4 final lap to put him in position to reach his goals. He did not break 31:00 as his time of 31:00.29 indicated, but he did better the BIG EAST mark of 31:00.64. Now he will run at home against the best of the BIG EAST. Congratulations, David!
And speaking of relays, our 4x100 relay finally acted the part it had been cast for earlier this year. With substitutions galore all year long, we were languishing in the 41s and even 42s. A new substitute this time actually improved the team. Mario Cannon led off with a very solid leg. Although all three handoffs were quite conservative, the running was good enough for us to run 41.20 and get fourth place. Now let’s go for first!
Our throwers continued to excel, led by Brian Zimmerman in the javelin throw which ended just before the 4x400 relay on Saturday. Although his best throw on Saturday of 215’ 5” did not equal his school record of 226’, all six of his throws bettered his 2008 UC record of 204’ 0”, placing him seventh in a spectacular field.
Troy Cooper and Chris Littleton were 1-2 punches in both the discus and shot put. It was Troy and Chris both times in that order, but they really pushed each other to very good marks with Troy’s 57’ 0” being the best. They are primed for the end of the season. Just as good as our throwers were our three high jumpers: Brandon Fitch, 6’ 10-3/4” (3rd), Ryan Beltz, 6’ 6-3/4” (T-8th) and Mike Foley, 6’ 6-3/4”. Although each had jumped those heights before, their near-misses at the next heights indicate plenty of hope for the future. It’s great to have two Bearcats place in events such as the discus and high jump as we did at this highly competitive meet in Tennessee.
Tommy Mark’s pole vault of 15’ 7” (4th) was likewise not his best, yet was very close to the 16’ 3/4” he notched in South Carolina. All four 5,000m runners were disappointed in their races, but when times of 14:17, 15:06, 15:08 and 15:16 are disappointing, we are making some real progress. Michael Rutherford just missed his PR in the 800m by running 1:50.79, then anchored the 4x800 relay in 1:53.6.
With the All-Ohio and BIG EAST serving as rabbits to these greyhounds, we now have enormous motivation to exceed the thrills of years past and be the best ever at UC!
With only three weeks remaining until the BIG EAST Championships, we took our talent four hours south to the Sea Ray Relays. This was one of the rare occasions during the outdoor season where we had the opportunity to compete against our in-conference rivals before the BIG EAST meet. With UConn, West Virginia, Seton Hall, and South Florida all in attendance, we were eager to make a statement to our conference foes. One group made a resounding statement that could clearly be heard by all competitors.
The 4x800 meter relay was the second-to-last event in this two day competition and on this occasion we saved the best for second to last. The relay quartet of Jenny Harsh, Jenna Heaton, Megan McAuley, and Kathy Klump all ran outstanding legs to score our highest place finish in the meet, second, and smash the school record by a staggering seven seconds! We competed from the start with Jenny Harsh battling at the front, turning in a 2:15 lead off to send us on our way. During the second leg, it was the University of Tennessee and Cincinnati breaking away from the pack as the other teams played chase. We continued to pull away from the rest of the competition, but could no longer keep pace with the nationally-known middle distance runners of UT. We knew we were on track to set the school record, but a blistering 2:09 anchor by Kathy Klump made a mockery of the previous record set last year by the same four individuals. Kathy proved that her fourth-place finish the day before at 2:10.07 was just a start for what she is ready to accomplish this season.
We had four other Top 10 finishes in this highly competitive meet. Natasha Burse turned in solid performances in both the 100m and 200m, placing 10th and eighth, respectively, in her premier events, but it was her much improved 4x400 relay carry of 56.9 that caught the team’s and coaches’ attention. An improved race strategy along with an increased focus in practice has helped bring Natasha to new levels. Pole vault standout Michele Eby scored an eighth place finish with a modest for her standard, but solid mark of 3.65m in the vault. Rounding out Top 10 finishers was none other than freshman Bridget McNeill in the discus. Bridget used a toss of 135’ 11” to make the final and hold on to a ninth-place finish in the competition.
Not yet mentioned, but surely noteworthy marks were Brianna Patton’s collegiate 100m hurdles PR of 14.52s. Also PR’ing was Catherine Earl as she led all UC hammer throwers in the event and put up a BIG EAST qualifying mark. Freshman Shanay Portis turned in a solid meet with a collegiate best in the 100m at 12.20 seconds and another solid mark in her new event, the triple jump. Jenna Heaton is back from a leg infection and ran tough despite missing some training. She will be back to top form in no time.
While Sea Ray was certainly a positive meet, too much of the story continues to be who didn’t compete. We still have far too many on the sidelines. We have just three short weeks to get healthy, rally, pull together, and put on a show as we defend our home turf at this year’s BIG EAST Championships. There is one more test first, as we head to Athens, Ohio, next weekend for the All-Ohio Championships. We look to prove once again that we are one of the premier schools for track & field in Ohio.
Go Bearcats! Susan Seaton, Head Coach, Cincinnati Women’s Track & Field