The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 16, 2012

Lions qualify 10, PSU 15 for Division II outdoor track meet

By Jim Fryar
Globe Sports Writer

— Ten Missouri Southern athletes have qualified for the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Pittsburg State will send 15 athletes to the three-day meet.

The D-II championships will be held May 24-26 at Pueblo, Colo.

For Missouri Southern, most of the experience is on the women’s team, which has four qualifiers.

Nicole Green, who qualified in the shot put, is a four-time All-American. Green, who attended Carthage High School, has improved her best throw by 10 feet since joining the Lions.

Lisa Vengels, another past All-American, returns to nationals in the high jump and has also qualified in the heptathlon.

“I would love to see them finish off their careers by getting on the award stand at the national championships,” Southern women’s coach Patty Vavra said of her seniors.

Sophomore Jasmin Hughes qualified in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes and freshman Melanie Bower is ranked ninth in the nation in the pole vault.

Junior pole vaulter Michael Juergens and sophomore high jumper Clark Tanksley are the only national veterans among the six Southern men who qualified. Juergens competed while injured at outdoor nationals a year ago, and is just now returning to competitive shape, said men’s coach Tom Rutledge.

Junior Dustin Green, who qualified in the discus, has experience from attending junior college nationals.

Freshmen qualifiers are Jeffrey Fraley (100 and 200), triple jumper Darion Boure and discus thrower Nicklas Polizzi.

Fraley is ranked second in the nation in the 200 and fourth in the 100.

“I’m excited for them. They’re pumped up,” Rutledge said of his young Southern team, which did not have a senior for the outdoor season.

“Plus, Fraley and Boure have probably qualified for the (summer) Junior Olympics.”

Pittsburg State, which won a rugged MIAA men’s outdoor championship, qualified 11 individuals for nationals. The Gorillas have two athletes ranked first in the nation in their specialties — javelin thrower Mike Beeler and long jumper Keenan Soles.

In addition, redshirt freshman Jeff Piepenbrink is ranked second in the pole vault and John Talbert is third in the discus.

Other qualifiers are the 4x100 relay team of Jason Crow, Jordan Riffel, Austin Riggs and Soles, Calvin Hughes in the javelin, Kiara Jones in the long and triple jumps, Marquise Cushon in the triple jump, Joplin’s Colbie Snyder in the vault and Talbert in the hammer.

Heidi Smith and Larissa Richards qualified in two events each for the PSU women. Both will throw the shot. Smith is also going in the hammer and Richards in the discus, where she has the No. 3 qualifying throw.

Smith has the third-best throw in the shot.

Also qualifying for the Gorillas are Kaley Temaat (800 meters) and Jalexis Peterson (triple jump).