This was the meet Kaylee Morgan had been waiting for.
Morgan made a bid to qualify for the NCAA Division II national track and field meet with a long jump of 19 feet, 3.5 inches Saturday in the preliminaries of the Bill Williams/Bob Laptad Invitational, then jumped 19-4.25 in the finals and moved into 11th place nationally.
“I told her (women’s head coach Patty Vavra) that I was going to do well today,” said Morgan, a freshman from Carthage. “I just had a feeling that this was going to be my weekend. I really wanted to qualify for nationals today.”
The field of prospects for the national meet is tightly bunched, but Morgan’s distance in the prelims normally would be a safe bet for a trip to nationals, said MSSU assistant coach Bryan Schiding.
“The long jump is so good that it was just 16th in the nation,” Schiding said. “Any other year it would be top 10.”
The criteria for qualifying in the long jump has changed and likely will include the top 20 jumpers, said Vavra.
The meet took place on a cold, cloudy day with temperatures in the 40s after a morning rain again soaked the Joplin area.
Despite the elements, Melanie Bower and Ashleigh McFarland both cleared 11 feet, 11.75 inches in the pole vault. Bower won the event on a tiebreaker.
“I expect to jump better at conference and keep my streak alive,” said Bower, a sophomore who is ranked 14th and is bidding for her fourth trip to a national meet.
The height was a career-best for McFarland, also a sophomore.
“I feel like it’s about due,” McFarland said. “I’ve been having really good meets. It’s just when the bar goes up, it psyches me out. I’m learning to put it all together.
“In the past couple of weeks, I’ve gone from a 13-foot pole to a 13-6 pole,” she said. “That’s allowing me to have more time to swing up and actually finish my jump.”
The results made a believer out of Schiding.
“Melanie and Ashleigh are ready to go 12 1/2 feet,” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting the right jump and the right bar placement. We should do some damage at conference.”
The MIAA Outdoor Championships are set for Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Fort Hays State, an event Kylie Cornman, who won the women’s shot put, said she is looking forward to.
“You’re always more pumped when there’s something riding on the throw,” she said.
The Lions’ success in the jumps — freshman Brittani Reagan had provisional marks in the long jump and triple jump — carried over into the men’s division.
Taylor McClelland, a senior, won the event with a leap of 23-10.25, Tylor Albright was second and Darion Boure was third.
“All of our long jumpers jumped season bests,” Schiding said. “The whole long jump crew performed very well today. They’re going at the right time.”
Albright, a freshman from Galena, Kan., agreed.
“I felt really good today and everybody was there with all the hype,” he said. “You can’t force something like that. All of us are headed in the right direction.”
Michael Juergens of MSSU cleared 16-9.25 and won the pole vault. Raymond Woldtvedt edged Jeff Piepenbrink of Pittsburg State on a tiebreaker for second place, but all three had provisional qualifying marks.
“He (Juergens) is staying consistently good and his mechanics are consistently good,” Schiding said. “Ray jumped 15-10, which is a PR (personal record).”
Dustin Green won the hammer throw with a personal-best 190 feet, 9 inches and was second to John Talbert of Pittsburg State in the discus. Seth Hackney won the shot put with a toss of 55 feet. Green was right behind with a toss of 54-9.25.
“The throwers competed well today,” said MSSU men’s head coach Tom Rutledge. “I was happy with the competition. It was not only the weather. You’re competing against other athletes.”
On the track, Jeff Fraley had the fastest time in the 100-meter prelims (10.44 seconds), then won the 200 in 21.23, both season-best and provisional qualifying times.
“I’m happy with that on a cold day, for sure,” Fraley said. “That was a lot better than I thought I would run. It should put me in a nice spot. I still have a couple of meets left.”
Jazz Allen ran a provisional qualifying time of 14.62 in the 110 hurdles.
This was the meet Kaylee Morgan had been waiting for.
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