By Jim Fryar
Globe Sports Writer
PITTSBURG, Kan. —
Lisa Vengels and freshman Jeffrey Fraley turned in explosive performances Saturday for Missouri Southern’s track and field team.
Vengels, a senior, marked a return to the form in the high jump by clearing an automatic qualifying height for the NCAA Division II national outdoor championships.
Fraley, already the owner of sizzling times in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, showed expanded range with a winning effort in the 400.
The performances highlighted the Lions’ efforts in the Gorilla Classic at the Prentice Gudgen Track.
Southern added five provisional national qualifiers to a growing list. Junior Michael Juergens cleared 15 feet, 9 inches in the pole vault, sophomore Lindsey Bragg, who attended East Newton High School, long jumped 18-6, and junior JeAnna Sheppard was third in the 100 hurdles in 14.36 seconds to match her personal-best time. Freshman Nicklas Polizzi and junior Dustin Green both had provisionals in the discus. Polizzi, from Germany, was third in 171-0 and Green was fifth in 167-11.
Vengels is a past All-American and Juergens, who like Vengels is returning from an injury, is a former national qualifier.
Vengels has struggled to recover from an offseason knee injury after clearing a national-best 5-10 during her junior season, missing out on the national meet during the past indoor season. But on Saturday, Vengels soared over 5-8 3/4.
“What a great series of jumps for her,” said Patty Vavra, Southern women’s coach. “She looked like her old self.”
Juergens developed into one of the MIAA’s premier vaulters last spring. He had his best meet of the spring despite continuing to use a short approach, finishing second behind Pittsburg State’s Jeff Piepenbrink, from Jasper.
Fraley may have had the most surprising result of the day for the Lions with his 48.21-second clocking — while running in a fierce wind out of the south— in the 400.
A strong gust appeared to stand Fraley upright at about the 300-meter mark, but he strugged to regain his balance, then his momentum. Fraley, from Waynesville, Mo., finished just 0.21 seconds off a provisional qualifying mark in his first college race at 400 meters.
He returned later and won the 200 in a season-best time of 21.23 seconds, an improved provisional mark.
“We’re staying competitive with a high volume of work,” said Bryan Schiding, who coaches the Southern jumpers and sprinters. “We’re three weeks out from conference (the MIAA Championships, at Emporia State) and we’re remaining consistent.”
Southern’s women won the 4x100-meter relay with a team of sophomores Bragg and Jasmin Hughes and freshmen Emily Weldin and Melanie Bower.
The Lion men were second in the 4x100, finishing behind Hutchinson Community College. The Dragons’ team was anchored by Corderrelle Patterson, a five-star wide receiver who has signed to play football next fall at Tennessee. The 6-foot-4 Patterson was considered by many the top junior college player in the nation.
Freshmen Jazz Allen, Fraley, Anthony Price and sophomore Clark Tanksley ran for Southern.
“We were a little sloppy with the stick (baton),” Schiding said. “This group probably has more speed than the group three years ago (who finished fourth in the national meet). But those guys were magic with the stick.”
A pair of future Lions had strong performances while competing unattached. Sophomore transfer Kaitlyn Belisle, who attended Cowley County Community College, won the 3,000 meters. Freshman Zach Williams, who walked in to the track office and offered to compete in the javelin, finished third with a throw of 188-9.
“We’re competing,” said men’s coach Tom Rutledge. “We made some freshmen mistakes, but nothing which can’t be fixed. I’m pleased with our performance.”