After winning last year’s OVC Indoor Track and Field Championship, Eastern’s track teams saw their first indoor action Friday as the team hosted the EIU Early Bird meet in the Lantz Fieldhouse, finishing in third place.
Finishing first at the event was Indiana State, who finished first overall for both the men and women, and second place was earned by Illinois State, who’s men’s and women’s team both finished second overall.
Eastern’s men and women both took third place, Western Illinois finished fourth and Loyola finished fifth.
“I think we were all okay with the performance on Friday night,” senior Lea Viano said. “This meet is usually really small so it’s just a good chance for us to see where we’re at fitness wise and see what we need to improve on.”
The Panthers earned a combined nine top three finishes at the event, which included two first place finishes.
For the women’s track team, senior Haleigh Knapp finished first in the high jump event, with a height of 1.78 meters. Knapp placed first at the event last year as well.
For the men’s team, senior Davion McManis started the running events for Eastern with a first place finish in the 60-meter dash with a time of 6.82 seconds. McManis also earned second place in the long jump with a jump of seven meters.
Finishing the top three placements for the men’s team were sophomore Nick Phillips, senior Chrisford Stevens and redshirt junior Brandan Lane.
Phillips finished third place in the weight throw competition with his distance of 16.39 meters, Stevens placed second in the triple jump with his distance of 14.34 meters and Lane tied for second in the 200-meter dash with his time of 22.61 seconds.
For Eastern’s women’s team, junior Shirley Jones placed third in the 400-meter dash with a time of 58.57 seconds. Senior Darneisha Spann followed with a third place finish in the 60-meter hurdle event with a time of 8.61 seconds.
To round out the top three finishes for Eastern, the Panthers’ women’s quartet in the 4×400 meter relay finished third. Spann, junior Pedra Hicks, sophomore Sophia Keith and senior Stephanie Dominguez finished with a time of four minutes and seven seconds.
Both Viano and distance coach Erin Howarth have said before that the team is excited for the season, and the ultimate goal is to win the OVC Indoor Championship again this year.
“This meet in my eyes gets everybody pumped up and motivated for the season to actually start and gives us that little drive to make sure we put in the work over Christmas break to make sure we come back ready to roll and to race fast,” Viano said.
Eastern’s third place finish at the meet Friday is not unfamiliar to the teams, as Eastern placed third last year at the same event. Indiana State took first and Illinois State took second last year as well.
The next time Eastern will be in action is after Christmas break, when the Panthers will compete at the Illinois Classic in Champaign on Jan. 12 and 13.
Dillan Schorfheide can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]