Eastern track, field ready for first outdoor meet of spring


File Photo | The Daily Eastern News Senior Ashton Wilson jumps in a meet last Spring at O’Brien. Eastern travels to Illinois on Saturday to compete in the Illinois Intercollegiate Indoor meet.

Blake Faith, Track and Field Reporter

The last time Eastern’s track and field program competed was last month when the program competed in the OVC Indoor Championships.

While that was the last result of indoor season, Brenton Emanuel, the track and field director, wants to put indoor in the past and begin a fresh start in his first outdoor season as Eastern’s director.

“As a team and coaching staff we obviously want more. We have talked correcting and cleaning up bad habits,” Emanuel said. “Every team has a clean slate; outdoor hasn’t been written. We must take advantage of every opportunity.”

This program is mostly based on underclassman. For the 24 freshmen in the program this is their first chance to take what they learned from their first indoor season and apply it to their first outdoor meet of the season.

“What I learned from indoor season was that I have to be better. Main thing I need to work on outdoor is staying true to my training and trusting the process that Coach Emanuel has for me,” said freshman Riley Baker. “My goal for this first outdoor meet is to run a clean 400 hurdles race.”

The program is returning quite a few upperclassman that have already made their mark in Eastern track and field history.

Senior Brandon Lane received first team All-OVC honors last season and is also ninth on the all-time 100-meter dash list with a time of 10.46 seconds. 

Senior Pedra Hicks was a second team All-OVC selection in the 400-meter hurdles as she set the school record in the event with a time of 1:00.29. Hicks also ranks fourth all-time at Eastern in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 13.94 seconds.

In field events, senior Joe Smith and junior Nicholas Phillips both return. 

Smith holds the 10th best triple jump mark in school history at 49’3.50”. He was a second team All-OVC performer in the long jump last season. Phillips ranks fourth all-time at Eastern in the hammer throw with a mark of 185’7”.

The Panthers will begin their outdoor season at the SIU Bill Cornell Spring Classic in Carbondale.

The meet will feature 10 NCAA Division I teams, including host Southern Illinois, Eastern, Purdue, Illinois, DePaul, Bradley, Western Illinois, Southern Illinois Edwardsville, Valparaiso and Evansville.

The Panthers will start field competition in the meet Friday at 3 p.m. and Saturday at 11 a.m.

“We’ve just continued to work hard and perfect our craft,” Emanuel said. “It’s just a rust buster; most of the team hasn’t competed in over a month. I just would like them to go out there, compete hard and work on the things we’ve been working on in practice. We are building the foundation for outdoors.”

Blake Faith can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]