NEW YORK CITY- After day 1 of the Armory Track Invitational, it would have been a challenge for day 2 to top it. Although day 2 didn’t match the numbers of day one, there were still some victories, some personal bests and some more learning experiences for the Sooners.
“We go to track meets to give us opportunities to do multiple things,” explained head coach Jim VanHootegem. “Obviously, we are looking to have performances that will qualify for the NCAA Championship. We always like to see people set personal records. We’re also largely looking for opportunities to grow. I think we saw those opportunities today. Over the last two days, there were a lot of people who stepped up, whether that was outstanding performances or people who took the chance to do something outstanding. It might not have worked out, but they took the chance. We have some people who don’t understand how to take those risks and we also need those people to concentrate a little bit better over a longer competition.”
When all was said and done, the women put together a solid weekend and are bringing home a third-place trophy to show for it. Behind Ama Pipi’s win in the 200-meter final, Leya Buchanan’s ridiculously close second-place finish in the 60-meter dash final (losing by .003), and Olivia Haggerty’s second-place finish in the 60-meter hurdles (with a PR of 8.28), the women totaled 71 points. They scored 71 points and finished behind South Carolina (89) and Ohio State (77).
The men ended up fifth with 51 points. Ohio State (103), South Carolina (78.5), UT- San Antonio (55) and Wisconsin (52) were the top finishers among the men’s teams.
Leading off the day, Makayla Stephens finished third in the high jump with 5-3.00 (1.60m). On the track, Brittany Tretbar ran her section (one of four total) of the mile run in 5:06.33. In section four held later in the afternoon, Hayley Redwine completed her mile at a personal-best time of 4:55.52. When all sections were combined, Redwine’s time was good enough for fourth place overall, and Tretbar was 12th.
One performance that stood out to the head coach over the two-day meet was that of Redwine. He was quick to point out the focus required of her after she waited almost the entire meet to run her event (meet started Friday at 11 am CT and Redwine's race was scheduled for 2:47 p.m. CT Saturday). She also was able to close out the meet for the women by picking up points for the team.
Likewise, in the men’s mile run, Brendan Taylor ran in the third section (also out of four) and finished with a personal best time of 4:13.80. Dylan Blankenbaker competed in the fourth section that was held in the Saturday afternoon. He capped the weekend with a victory in the mile run, the last running event of the day for Oklahoma, with a PR of 4:03.81.
VanHootegem also had high praise for Blankenbaker, not only for what he was able to do in the invitational, but also the example he is setting for others.
“One thing I will say about Dylan’s performance is that it was at the end of the meet so I hope the whole team was watching and understanding how somebody over the course of four or five years can really grow and become a master of their trade. Dylan is able to consistently run races as a top collegiate distance runner and that’s something that he’s worked on developing over his career. We want all of our people to feel like they are striving to become masters of their craft like Dylan is.”
In the 200-meter preliminaries, Pipi (23.62) and Buchanan (23.91, a PR) recorded the two fastest times to advance to the final round. Medinah Spencer advanced to the finals with a PR of 24.35, giving Oklahoma three finalists in the 200 meter. Daye Shon Roberson ran the 10thbest time in the preliminaries with 24.37, missing the finals by .02. Mia Mukes ran a 24.59, Amanda Van Buren finished in 24.84, Alexis Barnes had a PR of 24.91, and Payton Baker came in at 25.09. Pipi had the best time with 23.55 in the final for the win while Buchanan finished sixth in the with a 24.13 and Spencer was seventh with a 24.45.
There were plenty of other praise to go around for the head coach, especially the effort of Buchanan and Pipi.
“I do have to say, out of all of the outstanding performances, Leya and Ama were big warriors for the team,” praised VanHootegem. “They each ran five races and did really well, placed highly. Those two stand out just because of how many times they had to line up to compete. That’s what those types of athletes do. They were warriors for the team. “
The 60-meter dash and 60-meter hurdles held their finals today. Buchanan ran a 7.33 for second place and Pipi was fifth in 7.44. Bryce Douglas finished seventh in the men’s hurdles with a time of 8.13.
Also carrying over from yesterday’s results were the 3,000-meter runs in which Elena Arriaza, Isabella Rose and Eric Alldritt competed in. The final section of their events were held this morning, resulting in some updated results. Although Alldritt won his section, he finished sixth overall with his time of 8:20.15. Similarly, the standings for Rose and Arriaza’s were updated to seventh and 10th, respectively.
Grayson Haws put together a third-place run in the 800-meter with a time of 1:52.36. Calvin Miller finished 27th at 1:59.43. Lauren Gibbs ran the 800-meter on the women’s side in 2:17.10 and a 16th-place finish.
Over in the ring, Jess Woodard (60-4.50, 18.40m) was the highest OU finisher in the weight throw with a fourth-place result. Ashley Bryant’s best mark was her first attempt of the day at 54-7.50 (16.65m), which was good for 13th. Meia Gordon’s throw of 52-4.75 (15.97m) was a PR and led to her 16th-place finish. Camille Burge came in 27thwith a throw of 46-00.50 (14.03m).
On the men’s side, Charles Nguyen finished third in the weight throw with a mark of 61-09.50 (18.83m), which he recorded in the fifth round. His teammate and fellow weight thrower, Bradley Daboub, was unable to advance to the finals after his third round attempt of 47-3 (14.40m). He ultimately finished 14th.
In the men’s triple jump, the Sooners had two top-five finishers. Hayden McClain delivered his third-place mark of 49-11 (15.21m) on his second attempt. Marcus Mitchell finished fifth with a jump of 48-11.50 (14.92m) on his final attempt of the competition. Joshua Foster (46-10, 14.27m) and Dexter Neboh (46-6.75, 14.19m) finished 10thand 11th, respectively.
It was a difficult day for the women’s pole vaulters. Meagan Gray and Kenzie Shell did not clear a bar. For Shell, it was her first no height result in 10 consecutive indoor competitions. Julia Hanks was the top finisher out of the four women with a PR height of 11-11.75 (3.65m) to finish tied for ninth. Sydney King had the same marks as Hanks, but required two additional attempts to get it, leading to her 11thplace finish.
Even if every athlete didn’t have their best weekend, the beautiful thing about track and field and sports in general is that it is a team effort where each group supports the other.
“We had production in the throws, the jumps, the sprints and hurdles, and in the distance races. We want it to be a balanced team effort.”
From here on out, it is about taking the results and seeing where improvements can be made to implement in future events.
“We want to challenge our team as they are going to continue see greater and better competition going forward. That certainly is true next week at the Tyson Invitational and the Husky Classic.”