The Oglethorpe track and field teams got their outdoor season off to a good start Saturday at the Victor Icebreaker Duals, held by Berry College at Valhalla stadium in Mount Berry. The men's team finished fifth at the meet, with freshman Jonathan Vernon taking the title in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and senior Malik Willis doing so in the 400 hurdles. Meanwhile, sophomore Arielle Shaw won the women's triple jump competition, getting her outdoor season off to an excellent start, while the women finished eighth as a team.
Vernon set a new Oglethorpe men's outdoor record and beat his personal best in the 3,000 steeplechase, crossing the finish line in 10 minutes, 10.6 seconds. Willis posted a time of 57.83 in the 400 hurdles, while Shaw jumped 37 feet, 5 1/4 inches while winning the triple jump. Oglethorpe also got an outstanding school record performance from freshman Omari Miller, who finished the 800 in 1:57.41. That was good enough for third on the day, but was the top time in program history at the distance.
On the men's side, sophomore Rod Trujillo performed well in the throwing competition, placing in both the shot put and the discus. He finished third in the former, recording a throw of 40-10 1/2, while hurling the discus 114-10 for a fourth-place finish. The men's relay teams had good days, as well, with the 4-x-100 squad of Willis, freshman Eric Kimbrough, senior Randall Wright and freshman Taryn Dixon getting around the track with a time of 43.79 for a third-place finish. The 4-x-400 team of Willis, senior Jamal Willis, freshman Mateo Villa and Miller finished fourth in 3:31.89. Freshman Will Pursell joined Vernon with a fourth-place finish in the steeplechase (11.17.7), while Malik Willis also placed fifth in the 110 hurdles (20.59). Sophomore Rodrigo Meade earned a pair of seventh-place finishes in the 800 (2:01.9) and the 1500 (4:15.4). Wright tied for seventh in the long jump (19-4 1/4), while Villa and junior Robert Goldin finished eighth in the 1500 (4:16.4) and the javelin (96-4), respectively.
In addition to Shaw's triple jump victory, the women also had a handful of scoring finishes, all of them by freshman Kayla Trice. She finished seventh in the 100 (12.70) and the long jump (15-11 1/2), while placing eighth in the 200 (26.57).
"Overall, I was very happy with our effort at our first outdoor meet of the year," said Oglethorpe head coach Kirk Shellhouse. "It was nice to see a few athletes win their individual events, and even knock down a few school records. We definitely learned a lot about racing strategy and executing performances as a team. Being such a young group, we are going to learn from these early meets and grow to perform very well later in the season. I see exciting things to come from this group!"
The Petrels will next be in action March 10 and 11, when they travel to Birmingham, Alabama, for the Southern Invitational. They'll then close out the month across town in back-to-back weeks at the Emory Invitational and Emory Classic.