Alliance, Ohio- The Wittenberg University men's and women's track & field squads kicked off the 2018-19 season on Saturday at the annual University of Mount Union Toy Drive Invite. While the season-opening meet was a non-scoring team event, the Tigers still opened up some eyes with numerous top-five finishes across the board.
In the women's competition, three different Wittenberg athletes posted second-place finishes in individual events, including junior Alexis Gray in the 800-meter run (2:21.08), sophomore Alexis Johnson in the long jump (16'07.25") and freshman Stevie Plikerd in the triple jump (33'01.75"). Plikerd was particularly impressive in her collegiate debut as she also added a third-place showing in the long jump with a leap of 16'06.00". Two additional athletes posted third-place finishes on the day, with freshman Alexis Walker stopping the clock in the 60-meter hurdles in 8.11 seconds and classmate Elizabeth Canright logging a time of 11:31.89 in the 3,000-meter run. Freshmen Jacqueline Hayes and Jovanna Johnson notched fourth-place finishes on the day in the 400-meter run (1:03.93) and shot put (36'07.00"), respectively, while sophomore Anna Lebold also cracked the top-five with a fifth-place showing in the 800-meter run (2:38.82). In addition, Wittenberg posted a third-place finish in the 4x400-meter relay with the team of Hayes, Lebold, Gray and sophomore Taylor Barnhisel combining for an overall time of 4:15.65.
"I am very pleased with the way our team competed today," said head coach Paris Hilliard "After a long fall of training, they went out and capitalized on this opportunity to show the hard work they have put in thus far."
On the men's side, five different athletes posted top-five finishes in an individual event at Mount Union, led by junior Kenny Mayes finishing second overall in the finals of the 800-meter run with a time of 2:02.74. Junior Brandon Johnson added a pair of fifth-place finishes on the afternoon, first clocking a time of 7.23 seconds in the 60-meter dash, before finishing the 200-meter run with a time of 23.31. Senior Kyle Farnbauch also held the fifth-spot in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.72 seconds, while a pair of men also finished in the second position in field events, including freshman Grant Shepardson in the long jump (20'09.00") and senior D'Anthony Dorsey in the weight throw (47'03.75"). While the Tigers did find success in the individual events, it was the relay events where they made their mark on Saturday afternoon with three different relay squads finishing in the top-two of an event. The distance medley relay team of freshman Jack Chambers, junior Garrin Bachinski, freshman Travis Mentzer and freshman Ryan Zimmerman broke the tape in the event with a combined winning time of 11:18.56. In addition, the team of senior Matt Entsminger, freshman Joshua Finkeldey, sophomore Austyn Albanese and sophomore Maurice Graham finished second in the 4x200-meter relay (1:36.98), while the foursome of sophomore David Haake, Mayes, Albanese and Farnbauch also finished second overall in the 4x400-meter relay with a time of 3:31.04.
The Tigers will now be idle for nearly a month-and-a-half, before returning to action on Saturday, January 19th, for the SPIRE Invitational at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio.