The men’s and women’s track & field teams participated at the Penn State National Open this weekend, finishing two days of competition on Saturday night.
Overall, it was a successful outing for the Owls, who have about two weeks until the Atlantic 10 Conference Championships kick off on Feb. 16.
“I think they really stepped up to the challenge” coach Eric Mobley said. “This is where we should be, we had some really good performances.”
Several Owls set personal records, including sophomore distance runner Cullen Davis in the men’s one-mile run, sophomore jumper Darryl McDuffie in the men’s high jump, senior sprinter Sheina Roberts in the women’s 500m dash, and distance runner Anna Pavone in the women’s one-mile run.
Mobley said that his student-athletes’ achievements this weekend represent the kind of improvement he expects.
“The better you do each week, the harder you need to work the following week,” Mobley said. “You never want to relax. I think our team really stepped up to the competition, but they need to know that even though they stepped up that our season is nowhere near over.”
Two Owls claimed first place in their respective events. Junior sprinter Ambrosia Iwugo won the women’s 400m dash with a time of 55.65, while sophomore thrower Margo Briton placed first in the women’s shot put with a throw of 15.29m.
Iwugo said she is happy about her performance this weekend and thinks her team is in good shape, overall.
“Compared to last year, I think we’re off to a better start, definitely,” Iwugo said.
Among other notable performances was sophomore Kierston Laroche, who took part in the women’s pentathlon on Friday. Required to compete in five events, the pentathlon can be a grueling task, but Mobley said he was impressed with the sophomore’s performance.
“She was 300 points ahead of her PR from last year,” Mobley said. “There are still some technical things where she could improve, but to be 300 points ahead of where she was is really good.”
The Owls also experienced success in the relays. The women’s 4x4m relay finished second with a time of 3 minutes, 44.76 seconds, while the men’s 4×4 impressed Mobley with a solid race, in which the four Owls ran together for the first time ever.
Junior jumper and sprinter Gabe Pickett is a member of that 4×4 team, and said that he was pleased with the group’s performance, as well.
“We were pretty happy with it,” Pickett said. “We know what we can improve on. Next week we can get a better time, we just have to keep working and get better.”
With two weeks until the A-10 Conference Championships, they have a decent chunk of time to improve their standing.
“We have to spend some time practicing, being able to trust each other more,” Pickett added. “This was the first time we ran together. The more repetition, the better we’ll feel.”
Both the men’s and women’s teams will get their next chance to compete at the NB Balance Collegiate Invitational on Feb. 1 in New York City.
Mark McHugh can be reached at email@example.com.