JONESBORO, AR (astateredwolves.com) – The Arkansas State indoor track and field team opened up its season Sunday afternoon by claiming 19 first-place finishes in the A-State Kickoff Klassic at the Convocation Center.
"Our girls did really well in the throws and the guys did really well in the distance events," A-State track and field coach Jim Patchell said. "We had 16 personal bests set today and the conference championship is a ways away. We are looking pretty good and are quite a bit ahead of where we were at this time last year. We want to continue to see improvement and get some people on board with what we are trying to do, but I am pretty pleased with this one."
In the men's running events, sophomore Jaylen Bacon opened his second season with a strong outing in the 55-meter dash by winning the event with a time of 6.30 seconds. Sophomore Elijah Ross was fourth in the 55m dash with a time of 6.41 seconds and the duo finished in the top six of the 200-meter dash with Bacon coming in third at 21.73 seconds and Ross sixth in 22.81 seconds. Sophomore Travius Chambers won the 400-meter dash with a sprint of 49.04 seconds, while senior Billy Ellis captured the 55-meter hurdles with a time of 7.61 seconds.
In the distance events, junior Zach VanGundy turned in a first place time of 4:25.14 to finish first in the mile run while senior Wil Norris posted the ninth-fastest time in program history to finish first in the 3,000-meter run with a time of 8:37.11). Junior Drew Mueller won the 5,000-meter run with a time of 15:12.19, the eighth-fastest time in program history.
Junior Roelf Pienaar won the long jump and triple jump, likely qualifying for the NCAA Championships with his mark in each event. Pienaar posted a personal-best leap of 15.94m (52.03.75) to win the triple jump, the fourth-best triple jump in school history. In the long jump, Pienaar posted a leap of 7.82m (25-08.00), shy of his personal best and program record leap of 7.97m (26-01.75).
Sophomore Cristian Ravar Ladislau won the weight throw with a launch of 17.96m (58-11.25) while finishing third in the shot put with a toss of 14.72m (48-03.50). Sophomore Tiaan Steenkamp won the high jump with a personal-best clearance of 2.01m (6-07.00).
On the women's side, sophomore Kristina Knott claimed three first-place finishes on the afternoon. Knott was first in the 55-meter dash with a time of 6.92 seconds and she won the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.22 seconds. Knott claimed her third first-place finish in the long jump with the second-best mark in school history with a leap of 6.09m (19-11.75) in her lone jump of the day.
Junior Erin Farmer improved her own school record with a toss of 15.39m (50-06.00) to win shot put and she won the weight throw with a mark of 18.58m (60-10.75). Sophomore Ivery Guyton and sophomore Darragh May tied for first-place in the high jump with each clearing 1.66m (5-05.25).
Elsewhere on the track, sophomore Keturah Smith clocked the top time of 57.13 seconds to win the 400-meter dash and enior Emenderlyn Iwuji won the 55-meter hurdles with a time of 8.08 seconds.
The Red Wolves track and field program returns to action Friday, Jan. 15, at the Kentucky Invitational.