The Oklahoma Christian University women’s track team and field traveled to Lubbock on Jan. 18 and 19; while they did not come home with any medals, they gained a significant amount of experience.
“The meet was very competitive; there were a lot of heats in every event,” Head coach Randy Heath said. “It was only our second meet, and we wanted to not only participate but compete the best we could. We had many sick and injured players so we were a little short-handed.”
The Masked Rider Open is an annual indoor track meet in Lubbock, hosted by Texas Tech University. The fierce competition at the meet presented the Lady Eagles with a challenge.
“The competition was pretty tough. There were NCAA Division I teams at the meet as well as Division II, so we competed against teams much better than we will see at nationals,” freshman Rebecca Bloodworth said.
On Friday, the Lady Eagles only had participants in two events—the 200-meter dash and the weight throw.
Oklahoma Christian had four competitors in the 200-meter race: juniors Andrea Dennis and Wilmena Gley, sophomore Maegan Cowan and Bloodworth. Out of 93 runners, Oklahoma Christian’s Dennis placed highest among the team, placing60th with a time of 27.26 seconds. Cowan finished 64th with a time of 27.36 seconds, Bloodworth finished 67th, running a 27.46, and Gley finished 82nd with a time of 28.39 seconds.
Heath gave insight into the situation coming into the meet, and the unique chance that the meet presented the Lady Eagles.
“It was more of a training opportunity than anything, and we missed a couple days of practice the previous week,” Heath said.
The only other women’s participant on Friday was sophomore Katie Ostlund, who did not make the minimum requirement to move on.
On Saturday, the Lady Eagles 4×400 squad competed against 24 other teams and finished 19th with a time of 4:13.52. The 4×400 team is usually made up of Bloodworth, Dennis, junior Somer Helms and Cowan. However, due to Helms being ill Saturday, Gley stepped in as the replacement leg for the race.
“She had to step in last minute and compete in the mile relay when Somer was not feeling well,” Bloodworth said. “The 400 is not an easy race to run, especially when you haven’t been training for it, and she did well under the circumstances.”
The original relay team ran a better time at the Missouri Southern State University meet earlier this month, but Heath was not discouraged by the performance in Lubbock.
“Wilmena Gley substituted for Somer, and we changed the order a little bit, and we got19th place,” Heath said. “We ran two seconds slower than the meet at Missouri Southern, but considering the substitution I felt they did a good job.”
Bloodworth and Gley also competed in the 55-meter sprint, and in a field of 63 they finished55th and58th with times of 7.92 seconds and 8.07 seconds. Their times did not qualify them for finals in the event.
“Considering that we’ve only been back from break for two weeks, I think the team handled the competition pretty well,” Bloodworth said. “Even though not everyone had high places, I think we all improved from last week at Joplin, and that is sometimes more important than placing—especially with some of the teams that were there.”
The Lady Eagles did post an impressive finish with one of their long-distance runners, sophomore Cassandra Hallam. She ran the mile event and finished17th of 54 participants with a time of 5:30.19.
Two other middle-distance and long-distance runners participated for the Lady Eagles on Saturday. Noemi Hernandez placed31st of 41 competitors in the 3,000 meter event with a time of 11:59.14, and Maria Sargent competed in the 800 meter, finishing25th among 41 runners with a time of 2:36.77.
“We feel that Hallam achieved the NCCAA qualifying mark, and while Sargent didn’t qualify, she achieved her indoor personal best,” Heath said. “Hernandez also had a good start-up effort for her first time out. All of these runners are also coming back from slight injuries or illness.”
The next meet that the Lady Eagles will compete in will be the University of Central Oklahoma Invitational at the Oklahoma University Mosier Indoor Track on Jan. 26.
The Oklahoma Christian relay team will compete in the 4×200 event instead of 4×400 at this indoor meet, to try and achieve a qualifying NCCAA time.
“We will run in the 4×200, our first time ever indoor,” Dennis said. “We are really excited for the opportunity to run it and to keep improving on our times for nationals.”
DiBiasi, Helms, and a few others hope to be participating in the meet. Some of the schools that will be competing in the meet Saturday include Oklahoma Baptist University, Southern Nazarene University, St. Gregory’s University, Oklahoma City University, University of Central Oklahoma.
“Everything we’re doing now is getting ready for the NCCAA meet in Indiana,” Heath said. “We’re hoping to qualify in a few more events, and we’ve already qualified for quite a few. It will go fast, so we need to be ready this week.”