By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
Pittsburg State returns three men’s champions in the field events as the MIAA Indoor Track and Field Championships begin their three-day run today at Central Missouri’s Multipurpose Building.
The Gorillas’ defending champions are Colbie Snyder in the pole vault, Keenan Soles in the long jump and John Talbert in the weight throw. Snyder and Soles have the highest marks on this season’s performance list, and Talbert is seeded third.
“We have three guys who can score in the pole vault,” Gorillas coach Russ Jewett said. “It’s an event where we need to get the points coming to us. The long jump and triple jump are big events. There are a lot of swing points there.
“Our throws are important. We haven’t done well in the shot put indoors this season.
“We need a shot in the arm there and in the weight throw as well.”
PSU’s Jeff Piepenbrink is seeded second in the pole vault, and Kyle Utsey and Steven Mann are 3-4 in the long jump.
The Gorillas’ highest seed on the track is Adam Volkert, who is fourth in the 3,000 meters.
In the women’s division, Pittsburg State’s Emily Ballock is seeded second in both the 600 yards and 800 meters, and Larissa Richards ranks second in the shot put and third in the weight throw. Charissa Wall (shot put) and the 4x400 relay team are No. 4 seeds.
“The middle distance, long sprints and mile are important events for us,” Jewett said. “Some events it will be really hard for us to score. The ones where we do have the ability to score, we have to make hay there.”
Previewing the team races, “Lincoln’s women will have to miss the bus not to win,” Jewett said. “They have one of the stronger indoor teams I’ve seen. After that, it will be a battle I think.
“On the men’s side four or five different teams have some chance of winning. The addition of Nebraska-Kearney made it tougher, no doubt. They will be challenging for a title in their first year in the league.”
After the renovation inside John Lance Arena, Jewett reports his team survived its first season without an indoor track for practice.
“It’s gone OK until weather like this hits,” he said. “We’ve been creative. We’ve been able to do a few things inside still. The rest of us just suck it up and do it outside.”
But the Gorillas’ program can look forward to their reward — an indoor facility with a 300-meter track.
“We are excited about the future. That’s for sure,” Jewett said.