The Oglethorpe track and field teams had an eventful day at the SAA Track and Field Championships Saturday in Birmingham, Alabama, as they saw junior Malik Willis win the SAA championship in the 400-meter, earning All-SAA First Team marks in the process, while freshman Arielle Shaw took second in the triple jump and garnered All-SAA Second Team honors. In addition, the freshman-laden Stormy Petrel 4-by-400 relay squad took bronze in the final event of the day, guaranteeing all four members at least All-SAA Honorable Mention.
Willis took an SAA individual event championship for the second consecutive year and secured a top three finish in the 400-meter for the second straight year, as well, after finishing second in 2015. He rocketed around the track in 49.98 seconds, beating his opponent by half a second for the conference title. Willis also took eighth in the 400-meter hurdles, earning a point for his team with a time of 1 minute, 0.7 seconds. It marks the third consecutive season in which Willis has earned a spot on an All-SAA team.
Shaw jumped extremely well in the triple jump competition, just as she has all year long. She jumped 37 feet, 2.25 inches for her silver medal finish, outjumping the third-place finisher by almost two-and-a-half feet. She came in just behind Victoria Amadi of Hendrix for the conference championship. Shaw also earned a fourth-place finish in the 100-meter, coming in with a time of 12.62 seconds, and took fifth place in the 200-meter, posting a time of 26.29 seconds.
The silver in the triple jump wasn't the only medal on the day for Shaw, either, as she served as a member of the 4-by-400 relay squad that took bronze. That team also featured fellow freshmen Emily Toomer, Nicolette Andrey and May Mizell, meaning all three earn All-SAA Honorable Mention honors. The squad came in with a time of 4:14.9, putting them solidly in third-place position.
Elsewhere on the day, junior Jamal Willis and freshman Rodrigo Meade both placed in the men's 800-meter. Willis finished fourth in 1:59.3 while Meade came in sixth at 2:02.24. On the women's side, Andrey took fifth in the 800-meter, as she posted a time of 2:27.37. Toomer took eighth in the 200-meter with a time of 27.56 seconds.
The women's 4-by-100 relay team also had a solid day, finishing fourth. Shaw, Toomer, Andrey and senior Dia Parker put up a time of 51.06 seconds to finish in the top half of the event field.
As a team, the Petrels took sixth for the weekend on the women's side, accruing 36 points over the two days. The men finished seventh, scoring a total of 26 points.
"I was very impressed with how everybody competed so well against tough conference opponents this weekend," said Oglethorpe head coach Kirk Shellhouse. "Overall, we did a wonderful job of sticking to our strengths and overcoming some adversity as the weekend progressed. We had great performances from each event group and had quite a few athletes move into scoring position who were not as high on the conference list. I could not be more proud of this group of athletes and how they participated throughout this meet. I want to thank our seniors for their leadership throughout this whole season and their efforts which have allowed this team to have so much success."
Both teams will now continue at the Georgia Invitational next weekend in Athens, Georgia, as several Petrels attempt to qualify for the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships in May. That includes Shaw, whose best jump of 38 feet, 11.5 inches at the Sewanee Mountain Laurel Invitational places her fifth in the nation with the top 22 at the end of the season qualifying for nationals.
Day 1 Recap
The Oglethorpe track and field teams began their weekend at the SAA Track and Field Championships Friday in Birmingham, Alabama, earning a pair of top eight finishes on Day 1, which featured a handful of event finals as well as qualifying for Saturday's track events.
On the men's side, the squad got four points from freshman Rod Trujillo, who finished fifth in the shot put with a school record mark of 45 feet, 7.25 inches. Trujillo came into the meet with the sixth-best mark in the SAA on the season, and he out-threw Rhodes' Tej Suber, who was seeded third coming in, by over a foot.
On the women's side, freshman Emily Toomer placed sixth in the long jump. She jumped 15 feet, 5.5 inches to earn three points for her team, outjumping her previous season-best mark by almost eight inches.
The four points earned by Trujillo put the men in seventh place going into the second day of the meet, while Toomer's three points put the women in a tie for seventh.
Elsewhere, sophomore Rebecca Spry set a personal best with her performance in the javelin, coming up with a throw of 83 feet, 6 inches. That mark placed her 10th in the event.
In qualifying, junior Malik Willis ensured his spot in Saturday's 400-meter final with a time of 51.81 seconds, a mark which placed him third in his heat. He also qualified for the 400-meter hurdles final, placing third in his heat in that, as well, with a time of 59.69 seconds.
Meanwhile, freshman Arielle Shaw qualified for Saturday's women's 100-meter, winning her heat with a time of 12.75 seconds. She also qualified for the 200-meter final, winning her heat in that, as well, with a time of 26.06 seconds.
Toomer will join Shaw in the 200-meter final after she pulled an upset of sorts in qualifying, coming from outside of the top eight on the SAA performance list to finish sixth in qualifying with a time of 26.47 seconds, her best of the year so far.
Day 2 of the SAA Track and Field Championships will begin at 10 a.m. Eastern Saturday from Birmingham, and will feature the middle-and-short distance track events, as well as the 5,000-meter. The field side will feature the discus, high jump and triple jump.