Distance Team Shines at Mt. SAC Relays; Kovar Leads in Hammer
WALNUT, Calif./AZUSA, Calif. – April 19 – Track and field spent another weekend racking up Big Sky qualifiers as many of the T-Birds posted personal and season bests at the Mt. SAC Relays and Azusa Pacific’s Bryan Clay Invitational.
“This was a great set of meets for us, across the board,” head coach Eric Houle said. “This is exactly why we go to meets like this. They show the athletes the way they've got to perform, and they rise to the occasion. If they don't perform at that level, then at least they've had that experience and can make adjustments for future meets.”
Kayla Kovar led the Thunderbirds at Mt. SAC with a new Southern Utah record mark of 216-9 in the hammer throw. Kovar placed eighth overall in the hammer, leading the collegiate athletes, and moved up to a third-place ranking in NCAA Division I. She also placed fifth in the shot put (52-0.5) and eighth in the discus (175-3).
Whitney Singleton also competed in the shot put and posted a 23rd-place mark of 44-0 in the event. Jayson Kovar represented the throwers on the men’s side, posting a 22nd-place mark of 51-9 in the shot put and a 25th-place mark of 168-2 in the discus.
Freshman Mike Tate led the distance squad at the prestigious Mt. SAC Relays, finishing first in his section of the 5,000-meters with a Big Sky-qualifying time of 14:17.98. The race marks Tate’s first 5,000-meters of the season and ranks sixth in Southern Utah’s all-time records. Clinton Rhoton, Dylan Marx and Hayden Hawks also raced in various sections of the 5,000-meters and recorded respective times of 14:27.01, 14:56.07 and 15.11.24.
Marx also raced in the steeplechase at Mt. SAC and finished fifth in his section with a time of 9:20.94. Anthony Brown finished 16th in his section of the event, racing to a time of 9:12.18 and improving his tenth-place Southern Utah record by about one second.
Eric Sandall led the T-Birds in the 800-meter run with a 15th-place time of 1:51.75, while Ibrahim Ahmed represented Southern Utah in the 10,000-meters with a conference-qualifying time of 30:09.02. Ahmed’s time ranks eighth in the school’s record books.
Sprinters Shaun Murray and Mayra Franco represented Southern Utah in the 100-meter dash. Murray placed 35th on the men’s side with a SUU season-best time of 10.64, while Franco tied for 37th-place on the women’s side with a time of 11.94. Franco’s time ranks second in Southern Utah’s all-time records for the event. Jamila Pullum also sprinted for the T-Birds at Mt. SAC and improved her sixth-place SUU record in the 400-meter dash with a 40th-place time of 55.90.
Ashley Hawks led the women’s distance squad with top-ten school records in both of her events at Mt. SAC. The Cedar City native placed third in her section of the 5,000-meters with a Big Sky-qualifying time of 16:47.40 and now ranks sixth in the T-Birds’ records. Her 1,500-meter time of 4:29.59 earned her a 42nd-place finish and seventh-place position in the record books. Shelli Mogensen also raced in the 5,000-meters and recorded a 29th-place finish in her section with a time of 18:01.55.
Morgan Vorwaller and Sierra Malm represented the T-Birds in the women’s steeplechase with a pair of season best finishes, placing 13th and 15th, respectively, in their section of the event. Vorwaller recorded an 11:15.34 finish, followed by Malm with a time of 11:18.34. Aubrey Bryson was the only woman to race in the 800-meters at Mt. SAC and recorded a season-best time of 2:14.86.
Several of the T-Birds competed at both the Mt. SAC Relays and Azusa Pacific, including Shaun Murray in the men’s sprints. Murray led the field in the 200-meter dash with a Big Sky-qualifying time of 21.31. Teammate Preston Myers also posted a Big Sky qualifier at APU, finishing sixth in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.80.
Kayla Shakespeare led the sprinters on the women’s side with a conference-qualifying time of 12.09 in the 100-meter dash. Her time ranks ninth in Southern Utah’s all-time records.
Sandall came from a 15th-place 800-meters finish at Mt. SAC to break into the SUU records in the 1,500-meter run at Azusa Pacific. The sophomore’s 44th-place time of 3:52.43 is a personal best and ranks 10th in the school’s top ten.
Pole vaulters Lesli Kinkade and Jessica Johnson both improved their positions in the top-ten records with personal bests at Azusa Pacific. Kinkade improved her fourth-place ranking with a 17th-place mark of 11-1.75, while Johnson tied for sixth place in the records with a 23rd-place mark of 10-10.
The throwers also excelled at Azusa Pacific as Jennika Wright, Whitney Singleton, Whitney Fairbanks and Russell Nielson each recorded top-ten finishes in their respective events. Wright placed fourth in the shot put with a 43-10.75 toss, followed by Singleton in ninth place with a mark of 42-8.75. Nielson placed seventh in the men’s javelin throw with a mark of 182-0, while Fairbanks finished ninth on the women’s side with a toss of 124-9.
Southern Utah will now prepare to host its annual high school meet at Eccles Coliseum on April 25-26. The Thunderbirds are also set to compete at the BYU Invitational in Provo, Utah, on April 25-26.