Track, field places 13 athletes in top 3

Blake Faith, Track and Field Reporter

Track and field director Brenton Emanuel has stressed this year on the importance of his athletes to take advantage of every opportunity in competition as Eastern’s season progresses.

Last weekend at the EIU Big Blue Classic, several events were cancelled due to weather.

This weekend Eastern’s track and field program competed in the best weather of the outdoor season and finished the Indiana State Gibson Invitational with two first place finishes on Saturday, 13 top-three finishes and another school record being replaced.

“I thought the team competed very well and took advantage of the weather,” Emanuel said. “Being in the Midwest you never know what the weather will be week to week, but we must take advantage of every opportunity (meet) regardless. Just the fact performing this well early on lets us coaches know only greater things are to come after another month of training.”

Sophomore MaKenna Wilson broke Eastern’s women’s hammer throw school record with her throw of 173 feet and eight inches at the SIU Bill Cornell Spring Classic. At the EIU Big Blue Classic senior Jasmine Woodley would replace that record with a throw of 178 feet and six inches. Wilson would reclaim the record this weekend when she finished fourth in the event with a new record throw of 180 feet and eight inches.

Senior Pedra Hicks was one of the two Panthers with a first place finish. Hicks would win the women’s 400-meter hurdles with a time of one minute and one second. Hicks also would finish fourth in the women’s 100-Meter Hurdle crossing the line at 14.26 seconds.

Senior Joe Smith was the other Panther who won an event with a jump of 48 feet and nine inches in the men’s long jump. Smith was also third in the long jump with a final mark of 22 feet and 7.75 inches.

“When it comes to weather for the outdoor portion of track, you just have to prepare for the worst because you never know what you’re going to get, especially at this time of year,” sophomore Maggie McPherson said. “Of course we hope for perfect conditions but we rarely get that, so just knowing what the weather may be like ahead of time and starting to mentally prepare is really important.”

McPherson added, “If you know it’s going to be cold with 25 mph winds, then you may have to switch your mindset from trying to run your best race of the season to just going out and competing to the best of your ability.”

McPherson was not able to run in the women’s steeplechase last weekend due to the weather and looked forward to the opportunity coming into Terre Haute. McPherson would finish in third place in the event with a time of 11 minutes and 33 seconds.

“I was a little anxious about it at first just because it’s been so long since I’ve steepled, but I finally just had to relax and trust my training and know that everything would be okay,” McPherson said. “After the race, I was relieved but nowhere near satisfied. I was glad to get the first one out of the way, but now I just want to do it again so I can compete better and work towards a PR.”

Sophomore Tadiwa Mhonde had a pair of top three finishes.  He was third in both the men’s 100-meter and 200-meter dash.  Mhonde’s time in the 100-meter dash was 10.69 seconds, but it was  just behind his teammate senior  Brandan Lane who finished in second place with a time of 10.68 seconds. Mhonde’s 21.56 second finish in the 200-meter dash would round up his pair of third-place finishes.

Eastern’s track and field program will next compete at the Illinois Twilight at the University of Illinois.

“I’ve realized I’m a lot fitter than I think I am, and after this meet I know I just need to trust my coaches and keep doing what I’ve been doing and eventually everything will fall into place,” McPherson said. “I’m excited for the meets to come because I feel a lot more confident in where I’m at as far as fitness goes.”

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