TEMPE - Led by those who exemplified the "spirit of competition," according to head coach Jim VanHootegem, the University of Oklahoma track and field teams got off to a good start of the 2017 outdoor season during the first day of competition at the Baldy Castillo Invitational. Held at Sun Angel Stadium, the Sooners had several runner-up finishes and two PRs to show for it.
“For all of our team, we trained hard throughout the week,” said VanHootegem. “They trained well with good spirit and competed hard with good spirit.”
Charles Nguyen opened the day with a sixth-place finish in the hammer throw after a throw of 199-2. In the women’s competition, Ashley Bryant finished as the runner-up with a toss of 200-7 on her fourth attempt. Camille Burge threw a 161-1 in her first appearance in the hammer throw to finish 18th overall.
“I’m very pleased with Ashley, who is a returning NCAA qualifier. Her PR of 203-2 is a good PR, so for her to come within range, we couldn’t be more pleased with her showing. She had a foul but was able to regroup to have a strong result in the third round to set her up for the finals. She stayed aggressive throughout the finals. There were three or four things about her competition that were good signs of where she is as a competitor.”
In the pole vault, Everette Favor matched his PR and finished in a tie for runner-up after clearing 17-0.75. Steven Jazdyk tied for 11th with a height of 15-7. Lucas Kelley was unable to record a height.
Joshua Foster set a personal best of 48-7.25 in his runner-up finish in the triple jump. He came into the season with a previous best mark of 46-5.25. All three of his legal jumps (46-10.75, 47-11.00 and 48-7.25) beat that mark. Barry Frazier finished fourth in the event with a 45-10.50. Dexter Neboh finished behind him in fifth with a jump of 45-5.25.
“Josh is growing with each day,” stated VanHootegem. “We are pleased with where Josh is, and with the number of meets that he’s competed well in. He’s coming of a PR in the Big 12 Indoor, and he carried that over to this competition. We want all of our team to be striving to get better, and Josh certainly is doing that.”
In her first appearance in competition as a Sooner, Gabby Kearney threw her way into school history in the javelin. Her mark of 166-7 resulted in a fifth-place finish and is the fifth-best throw in school history.
VanHootegem was quick to praise the efforts and results of Kearney.
“Gabby had a significant injury last November, had to redshirt and rehabbed back. We couldn’t be more pleased with her debut with the Sooners. She is fifth overall in OU history - obviously, a strong debut.”
On the track, Trae Armstrong finished fourth overall in the 200-meter dash with a time of 21.04 in his first event of the year. Jamarkus Birks finished in 21.45 and Jackson Webb ran 21.66. Leya Buchanan led the Sooners in the women’s 200 with a fifth-place finish and a time of 23.76. Amanda Van Buren recorded a 24.35 and Makayla Stephens ran 25.76.
Medinah Spencer was the runner-up in the women’s 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:00.03. Mia Mukes finished sixth at 1:03.10. Bryce Douglas had a top 5 finish of his own in the 400-meter hurdles race, finishing fourth with a time of 52.81. His classmate, Tyler Hart, ran 54.16.
“Our freshman men, Bryce in the 400 hurdles and Jamarkus and Jackson in the 200-meter, were able to come out with a good spirit of competition and competed well. They were able to step up and show signs of things to come.”
Closing out the first day of competition was the 1,500-meter run. Jacob Burcham paced the men with a runner-up finish and a time of 3:47.05. Liam Meirow was the next Sooner to cross the line with a 3:55.46, a PR for the junior. Heath Warren posted a 3:57.07 in his first outdoor meet for OU.
Kelsey McKee was the best finisher for Oklahoma on the women’s side. She ran a 4:35.67 to come in 11th. Elena Arriaza finished 13th with a time of 4:37.59. Isabella Rose finished with a 4:39.58 and Brittany Tretbar recorded a 4:51.57.
The invitational resumes with the men’s discus at 12:30 p.m. CT tomorrow. Live results will be available, as well as live streaming from 4-7:15 p.m. Updates will be provided on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram throughout the day on OU_Track. A recap will also be provided at the conclusion of the meet on Soonersports.com.