The Lady Eagles track and field program broke into the indoor season in full stride over the weekend at the Missouri Southern Open Invitational.
Their first meet of the season saw several top 10 finishes, as well as even more NCCAA qualifying scores. Despite the long break, sophomore Maegan Cowan did not want anything to be taken away from the hard work the team went through for this season opener.
“We got started right off the bat after Christmas break,” Cowan said. “The week before the meet, we tried to get as prepared through our workouts as we could.”
The Lady Eagles came into the meet on the back of a 2012 season in which Cowan and juniors Andrea Dennis, Somer Helms and Alyssa Garrett broke school records with their performances in the 4×400 relay. Cowan emphasized the team’s focus, with no one buckling under the pressure of high expectations coming off of last season.
“I don’t think last season’s performance had any negative effect on how we performed,” Cowan said. “We knew what we were capable of coming into this meet.”
The invitational began Friday by kicking off with the 200-meter race. Forty competitors participated in the event, marking the beginning of the Lady Eagles’ indoor track and field season.
Five Lady Eagles participated in the 200-meter race on Friday. Both Dennis and Cowan placed in the top 11 for the event.
Dennis had an eighth place finish with a time of 27.02, while Cowan came in 11th place with a time of 27.24. Both scores met the qualifications for the NCCAA meet, which will take place in February.
Freshman Rebecca Bloodworth made her debut performance in Missouri, ending the race in 20th place with a time of 27.95.
The Lady Eagles also had participation in field events during the meet. Sophomore Katie Ostlund placed 12th in the weight throw with a mark of 38 feet, five and-a-half inches; a personal best for her in this event.
In the women’s high jump, sophomore Sarah Dibiasi finished in eighth place with a distance of 1.41 meters.
Bloodworth also ran in the 60-meter event, finishing 17th out of 28 runners in 8.44 seconds. The 60-meters is one of the shortest running events in the indoor season and can take a lot of sheer startup power to be successful. Dennis shed light on a trait that might work in her teammate’s favor in this type of event.
“She is always very aggressive coming off the blocks,” Dennis said. “She isn’t afraid to pass ahead of the competition to get better placement.”
Saturday the Lady Eagles relived the past in the 4×400 relay event. Dennis, Cowan, and Helms continued their participation, while Bloodworth took up the empty spot left by Garrett.
Bloodworth came off of the starting blocks as the lead leg of the four-member team, followed by Cowan and Helms, with Dennis coming in as their anchor.
The relay team ended the race with a time of 4:11.61, beating out seven other teams but coming up well short of their record-setting time of 3:56.75.
Two members of the team also had success in the 400-meters running among 23 total competitors. Cowan took fifth while meeting NCCAA qualifications with a time of 1:01.75, while Dennis finished 12th in 1:04.33.
Head coach Randy Heath is focusing the team on starting off strong.
“We’ll work a lot with block starts in the Barn this week,” Heath said. “At this point we’re just getting the team warmed up and ready to transition into this season.”
This season in particular can be looked at as a transition for the school, as well as the team itself. Heath elaborated on the state of the program in this transition.
“This season we’ll be competing in the NCCAA division,” Heath said. “We left the NAIA but haven’t made it to Division II yet, so we’re counting this as a chance for us to grow and improve.”
He went on to explain that the team will use the NCCAA as a learning experience, as well as a chance to meet students from across the nation.
The athletes themselves also had goals of their own as the entered the indoor season.
“I just want to get better in general,” Cowan said. “Every finish time I get for every event I run needs to be better than the last.”
The Lady Eagles look to improve upon their strong performance in Joplin and achieve both the standards of the NCCAA as well as their own.
Oklahoma Christian University’s track and field team will be competing for the second time this season at the Texas Tech Invitational today and tomorrow.