Tarleton reaps individual rewards on final day of Michael Johnson Invite
WACO – A trip 90 minutes south of Stephenville to Baylor brought out the best efforts in some of Tarleton's top track and field athletes on Saturday to close out the Michael Johnson Invitational.
A pair of school records were nearly broken while two athletes earned bronze medals and five others registered top-10 finishes on an afternoon in which nothing came easy.
A constant drizzle, whirling winds and sub-60-degree temperatures stiffened legs and packed lungs with sharp air. All members of the Big 12 Conference sans West Virginia were present at Hart Track and Field Stadium as were Texas A&M and a number of Southland Conference foes.
Juxtaposed with a challenging atmosphere, individual contenders for the Western Athletic Conference Championships emerged with the finale of the Texans' debut Division I season now exactly one month away.
Jasmine McQuirter and Oscar Rodriguez respectively notched third place finishes in the long jump and discus and were Tarleton's top performers. McQuirter leapt 19' 9.5" to begin Tarleton's slate of field events. The two-time All-American currently ranks in the top-three in the WAC in both the long jump and 100m dash. Rodriguez, a sophomore, let loose a heave of 171' 3" to earn his third medal in the discus in as many meets. He ranks first in the conference in the event and his personal record of 171' 8" is less than four feet away from Tarleton's outdoor school record (175' 3").
A trio of jumpers joined McQuirter in cracking the meet's top-10 performance list. Gentrye Munden and Maxon Newell each placed eighth in the high jump. Munden cleared 5' 3.25" to post her seventh consecutive top-10 finish in the high jump dating back to the 2020 indoor season. The Cleburne, Texas native's personal record of 5' 6" ranks second in the WAC. Newell matched his personal record at 6' 2.75", which previously earned him a silver medal on Apr. 10 at the North Texas Classic. Freshman Jaden Hall took fifth in the triple jump with a leap of 43' 11.25" to round out Tarleton's top-10 representation in jumps.
Rodriguez was not the only Texan thrower to turn heads. Elena Reagan finished seventh in the discus with a personal record of 139' 0" and moved to 10th on the WAC outdoor performance list.
The big state Baylor afforded certainly brought out the best in the Texans' 800m contingent as well. Jenna Brazeal, Bailey Smotek and Kevin Calvani all notched personal records in their respective races.
Brazeal checked in at 2:15.42. Her time moves her within less than two seconds of Tarleton's outdoor women's 800m record and is fifth-best among all conference competitors. The sophomore is coming close to cementing herself as the greatest women's 800m runner in program history. Brazeal broke the indoor record in the event with a time of 2:18.40 during the 2020 season.
Smotek crossed the finish line in 1:57.82 while Calvani was not far behind at 1:58.47. A sophomore. Smotek was also a member of Tarleton's 4x400m relay team, which won its heat and finished sixth overall at 3:13.74.
A trio of All-Americans rounded out Tarleton's relay team in Brandon McKissick, Anterius Brown and Zachary Martinez. McKissick was the Texans fastest finisher in the 400m earlier in the afternoon at 48.81. Brown, who earned WAC Track and Field Athlete of the Week honors on March 23, came in at 49.10 while Martinez registered a season personal record of 49.19.
Alessa King and Anayah Copleand were Tarleton's two entrants in the women's 400m. King finished the race in 59.06 and Copeland clocked a time of 1:00.08.
Tarleton enjoyed a quartet of notable performances in the 110m and 400m hurdles.
Heptathletes Joshua Hutchings and Skyler Sandusky each recorded personal records in the 110m hurdles despite racing when Saturday's central Texas rain reached its apex. Hutchings posted a time of 16.11 and Sandusky finished in 16.33.
Sullivan Sanders was the Texans' fastest finisher in the 110m hurdles with a time of 15.38. The junior is fourth in the WAC in the event. Later in the afternoon, fellow junior Dahmir Pearson took sixth place in the 400m hurdles in 57.55 seconds.
Tarleton also received a balanced effort from the remainder of its jumps, sprints and multis crew. Heptathletes Chandee Bachmeyer and Emily Simon recorded marks of 16' 8.5" and 16' 7.5" in the long jump while long jump specialist Erikmycal Powell leapt 21' 6". McQuirter led Tarleton in the 100m dash with a time of 12.09. Texan newcomers Nyla Barlow and Summer Croxton followed with respective times of 12.38 and 12.56. Croxton later won her heat in the 200m dash in 26.02 and Bachmeyer nearly matched her season personal record with a 26.53-second finish. Hanna Dudley rounded out the group's efforts with a mark of 12.66 seconds in the 100m dash.
The Texans sent 25 athletes to Baylor on Saturday, but will have their full squad on display on Thursday when the Joe Gillispie Invitational returns at Tarleton Memorial Stadium. Field events begin at 10 a.m. while track events commence at 3 p.m. Visit the track and field page at TarletonSports.com for full event details.