VU Track & Field Continues to Build on Impressive 2017 Indoor Campaign with Big Weekend at GVSU
Grand Rapids, MI – The Vincennes University Track and Field teams continued their impressive indoor season on Friday and Saturday at Grand Valley State University’s Big Meet by throwing down 5 marks good enough to be in the top 10 in the NJCAA in their specific event, and by adding several more athletes to their list of national qualifiers this season.
Sophomore Stoney Prowell got the Trailblazers off to a hot start at GVSU on Friday by picking up the team’s first win of the meet by taking 1st in the 600m dash. Prowell clocked a time of 1:20.27. That mark narrowly misses the school record by .47 tenths of a second, and currently sits as the 4th fastest time in the NJCAA in the event. Prowell would double back on Saturday, and take a win in the 400m dash as well to round out his weekend.
Fellow Sophomore Jordan Down’s joined Prowell, and several of his teammates in throwing down big performances at the Kelly Sports Complex this weekend, by taking 2nd in the pole vault with a leap of 15’ 3 ¾”. That jump currently sits #4 in the NJCAA in what is shaping up to be a very tight contest nationally in the vault. Downs also competed in the long jump, taking 5th, and tying his PR with a jump of 22’ 11 ¼”. Downs again, narrowly missed the NJCAA qualifier by ½”.
Sophomore Jose Abel Cano Pallares qualified in the Mile with a season best time of 4:23.40. That mark currently sits 10th in the NJCAA in the event.
The Women’s Distance Medley Relay consisting of: Sydney Davidson, Elizabeth Bristow, Maisie Lay, and Anais Da Silva raced to the 2nd fastest time in school history, and the #3 time in the NJCAA this year by running 12:37.46. Da Silva preceded that the night before by breaking her own school record in the 3,000m run in a time of 10:06.54. That time currently sits 2nd in the NJCAA, adding to what was already an impressive list of top 5 times for Da Silva who also sits in the top 5 in the: Mile, 5,000, and Distance Medley Relay.
Freshman Marlowe Mosely also tacked another event onto his national qualifying list by qualifying in the 400m dash with a time of 49.19 seconds. He was narrowly edged out by fellow VU teammate Stoney Prowell, but still finished 2nd in the event. Mosely has now qualified in the 4x4, 600, and 400m dash.
A pair of freshman half-milers punched their ticket to Pittsburgh state as well on Saturday. Sydney Davidson qualified in the 800m run with a season best time of 2:24.26, and fellow freshman teammate Maisie Lay qualified with a time of 2:25.79. Both ladies had qualified in the Distance Medley Relay earlier in the day, but this was the first in what is sure to be many individual events that the two stud middle distance runners will qualify in.
National stand-out Varvara Klyuchnikova finished in 4th in the High Jump under difficult conditions at the Kelly Sports Complex. Coach Chris Gafner said, “For right footed jumpers, this place is really tough because you have to mark your steps on the track. So you have to watch for runners who are racing at you, and you may have to speed up or slow down your approach, which really can throw you off.” Freshman Jamesha Western also continued her very strong indoor campaign by finishing 4th in the shot put.
The Vincennes University Track and Field teams will be in action again this Friday as they Travel to Trine University for the Region XII Indoor Championships. Start time is set for 2:00 p.m. EST! Go Trailblazers!
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The Vincennes University Track & Field Teams have consistently been among the NJCAA’s top Div. I programs.
In building itself into an elite junior college program and maintaining that status for more than four decades, VU has recorded consistent top-10 national team finishes and amassed eight NJCAA national team titles, while crowning 27 individual national champions. Along the way, members of the Trailblazer Track & Field Teams have earned 108 NJCAA All-American designations, while about 270 VU competitors have been national placers and three have garnered national records in track & field competition.
Success breeds success and Coach Chris Gafner’s strong Trailblazer recruiting class for the 2015-16 school year indicates that VU’s achievements on the national level will continue into the future.
As for the program’s heritage, many VU athletes have gone on to star at the NCAA level, including NJCAA record-holder Natalia Bartnovskaya who followed up her stellar VU career by becoming the Kansas Jayhawks' school record-holder in both indoor and outdoor pole vault, a two-time NCAA First-Team All-American and a NCAA national champion for Kansas in 2013. Other notable alumni include Ryan Smith who won the NCAA title in the shot put for the University of Indianapolis in 2013, Tatiana Zhuravela who won a discus national title for the University of Indianapolis in 2014 and Pierre Banks’ 110 meter hurdle championship for Wayland Baptist in 2014 .
In the recently-completed 2015 indoor and outdoor seasons, VU athletes landed the three most recent national titles and racked up another handful of All-American honors for the Trailblazer program. Sophomore Kaitlyn Moricz won her second NJCAA pole vault title, while sophomore distance runner TaPring Goatee capped off an award-laden VU career with her first national title, a win in the steeplechase. Also, freshman Trey Kennedy earned his initial NJCAA national crown in the pole vault.
In addition to the three national championships, VU sophomore Robert Murphy finished second in the men’s steeplechase. He nearly matched Goatee with a steeplechase title of his own when he pushed South Plains’ Antibahs Kibiwott Kosgey to a near-photo finish. Murphy’s time was 9:07.91, compared to the winning time of 9:06.79.
Murphy and Goatee and VU Assistant Coach Tim Marsee were in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s inaugural NJCAA Div. I Outdoor Track & Field Regional Athletes and Coaches of the Year for the 2015 season. Murphy was the USTFCCCA Atlantic Region Men’s Track Athlete of the Year, while Goatee grabbed the same award on the women’s side. Marsee was named the USTFCCCA’s Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year. The announcement came just after Murphy was also chosen as USTFCCCA’s NJCAA Men’s National Athlete of the Week early this year. Among the most decorated student-athletes in VU running history, Murphy and Goatee were multiple-time NJCAA and USTFCCCA All-Americans in track & field and cross country. Both also established several VU school records and held multiple No. 1 rankings in various events. Marsee has garnered several NJCAA Assistant Coach of the Year awards over the past several indoor and outdoor track & field seasons.
Murphy landed the same honor during the 2015 indoor season. He was joined as an indoor season honoree by VU’s Isaiah Thomas, who was the USTFCCCA Midwest Region Men’s Field Athlete of the Year.
During the 2014 indoor season, the VU men's and women's programs both finished in the top five at the NJCAA National Championships. Leading the charge were Simon Gyllensten and Moricz. Gyllensten dominated the championship meet's Heptathlon events, scoring a meet record 5,366 points while also winning the open Pole Vault to be selected as the Most Valuable Field Athlete of the Meet. Moricz claimed her first national title in the pole vault.
Beyond VU Track & Field's mission to give each student-athlete opportunities to excel against top four-year programs as well as the top two-year teams throughout the country, Trailblazer student-athletes also receive guidance to complete their VU degree and transfer to successful four-year institutions. The following are a few of the colleges and universities that VU Track & Field and Cross Country student-athletes have gone on to: Indiana, Purdue, Indiana State, Ball State, Louisiana Tech, Western Kentucky, Alabama, Middle Tennessee State, Western Michigan, Tennessee, Florida, Louisville, Louisiana State, Southern Indiana, Illinois, Greenville, Murray State, Arkansas State, Huntington College, Indianapolis, Anderson, Manchester, St. Thomas (FL) and Kentucky.