WVU Track and Field Opens New Facility With Good Performances

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    The West Virginia University track and field team opened competition at The Track & Field Complex at Mylan Park in style, winning nine events at the West Virginia Open on Saturday afternoon.

    The meet marked the Mountaineers’ first hosted event at the new facility, which officially opened in October. It also was WVU’s first outdoor home meet since 2009.

    Despite chilly temperatures, the facility was soaked in sunshine throughout the day.

    “It truly felt like a home event, and it’s fun to finally see that in outdoor track. It’s been a long time,” WVU coach Sean Cleary said. “Most specifically, we want to thank the administration for making this happen. We’re up and running now; it was a perfect meet to have to work through the dynamics of the meet and prepare for the future.”

    The Mountaineers, who were joined by Bethany, Robert Morris, Waynesburg, West Liberty and Wheeling Jesuit at the historic meet, were led by redshirt senior Bria Welker’s two wins. The Ridgeley, West Virginia, native finished first in the women’s 400 meters with a time of 56.70 before she added to her win total in the women’s 200 meters in 25.92.

    “Once again, Bria Welker was very strong in adverse conditions,” Cleary said. “The temperatures were cold, but she ran a great 400 (meters). She’s running well in less-than-average weather, so I think she’s going to really enjoy the second half of the season.”

    Also on the track, freshman Peter-Gay McKenzie won the women’s 100 meters with a time of 12.46, while freshman Margaret Rymer placed first in the women’s 400-meter hurdles in 1:06.40. Rymer also placed fourth in the 200 meters, crossing the line in 27.01, while sophomore Michaela Ashford took fourth in the 100 meters in 12.86.

    In the women’s 1,500-meter steeplechase, redshirt freshman Katherine Dowie used a strong final kick to win in 5:09.26, ahead of freshman Mikenna Vanderheyden, who finished second in 5:12.48.

    “Katherine and Mikenna ran through some excruciatingly cold water, and both had pretty respectable times in the steeple,” Cleary said. “That should step them up well as we transition to the 3k races.”

    Additionally, redshirt freshman Hayley Jackson won the women’s 800 meters with a time of 2:10.15. Redshirt junior Candace Jones finished just behind her in 2:15.14 for second place.

    Jackson, who was named the Big 12 Women’s Track and Field Athlete of the Week on Wednesday, has now won twice in two weeks to open her outdoor campaign.

    “Hayley Jackson, coming off a very strong winter, got off the line in the 800 in conditions that most couldn’t do to really set a big time,” Cleary said. “She faded a little bit in the straightaway, but I think this is going to set her up for a very good April.”

    In the field, freshman Sada Wright won the women’s discus throw in her outdoor collegiate debut. The Glenville, West Virginia, native earned a mark of 42.22 meters (138 feet, 6 inches), good for the fifth-best throw in program history.

    In the women’s long jump, redshirt senior Shamoya McNeil picked up her second win in as many weeks with a mark of 5.69 meters (18 feet, 8 inches). McKenzie finished second with a mark of 5.55 meters (18 feet, 2.5 inches), while Ashford (5.48 meters – 17 feet, 11.75 inches) took third.

    “It was nice to see Sada’s performance,” Cleary said. “She has taken the last month and has really worked hard in the weight room. I think we’re going to see her lifetime-best throws come in the next month or so. And it was great to see Shamoya out there; I really felt like she and the girls embraced the weather conditions and just had a lot of fun.

    The meet closed with the women’s pole vault, where redshirt senior Madelin Gardner won with a jump of 4.02 meters (13 feet, 2.25 inches). Freshman Molly DeBone was fourth with a mark of 3.36 meters (11 feet, 0.25 inches), while freshman Audrey Schlosser tied for fifth with a mark of 3.21 meters (10 feet, 6.25 inches). Sophomore Mikayla Shute (3.06 meters – 10 feet, 0.5 inches) was seventh.

    “Maddy was really excited to jump in front of a home crowd,” Cleary said. “She handled the weather that was given to her well, and she produced another good performance.”

    Next up, the Mountaineers split for three meets, from March 29-30. WVU will be represented at the Texas Relays in Austin, Texas, the Stanford Invitational in Stanford, California, and the Raleigh Relays in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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