Men’s distance and women’s relay runners break school records.
The men’s and women’s track teams came back from State College, Pa., with two new school records and a sense that things were starting to click.
“It was a meet where you’re facing great competition on a national level,” head coach Eric Mobley said. “We wanted to go in and be competitive and that’s what we did.”
The Penn State National Invitational included powerhouses, such as Clemson, Penn State, Central Florida and Tennessee. Both the men’s and women’s teams put in solid performances in their fifth event of the year.
The men were led by junior Travis Mahoney, who finished first in the one-mile run with a season-best time of 4 minutes, 13.32 seconds. He also ran the beginning leg of the men’s distance relay that broke a Temple record.
“Mahoney put in a big performance for us,” Mobley said. “He’s been clicking on all cylinders lately and being more and more competitive each week.”
Senior Bob Keogh put in another solid performance in the weight throw with a toss of 63 feet, placing him fifth in the event.
“Bob Keogh has been great all season so far. This was another big showing going against top competition and he’s got to be Top 30 in the country now,” Mobley said.
The record-setting performance came when the men’s distance relay team, which consisted of Mahoney, freshman Alex McGee and seniors Eddie Penetar and Aaron Taylor, broke the previous distance relay record time by 10 seconds.
Penetar also ran the 3000-meter in 8:35.60, earning him a fourth-place finish. Junior Alan Harding recorded a sixth-place finish in the 500 with a pace of 1:04.30.
“What makes all of these impressive is the competition that we were going up against on both the men’s and women’s sides,” Mobley said. “This was a big invitational with lots of ranked teams with elite athletes in each competition.”
On the women’s side, the 4×800 relay team broke a school record that was set at this same event last year. Sophomore Tonney Smith and seniors Tashima Stephens, Shadaya Bennett and Assata Cowart ran a combined time of 9:03.17, placing third behind Georgetown and Connecticut.
Senior Paris Williams put in an impressive effort in the women’s 500. The Maryland native ran a time of 1:13.95, finishing fourth and just three seconds behind the winner from Tennessee.
Mobley said this successful trip was key because of the slow start the teams got off to this season. But now things seem to be looking up as the teams have started heading in the right direction.
“We’ve been picking it up and heading in the right direction,” Mobley said. “I mean we’re breaking school records and things are starting to click.”
But the success will have to be sustained as the team heads across the river to Holmdel, N.J., next week for the Monmouth Invitational. With conference championships looming on the horizon, Mobley said he knows this performance was just a start, but success against good competition ensures confidence in the team heading forward.
“I’m definitely pleased, but it doesn’t stop there,” Mobley said. “We still have a lot of work to put in with some huge events ahead of us.”
Brandon Stoneburg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.