By Mark Schremmer
Globe Staff Writer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
The Missouri Southern men’s 1,600-meter relay team has its eyes on the school record.
The newly-formed team of Jeff Fraley, Anthony Price, Miles Migliara and Clark Tanksley didn’t quite reach that goal, but it did earn first place and a provisional qualifying mark at the MSSU Lion Invite on Saturday at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.
Fraley helped the Lions get out to a big lead, and Missouri Southern finished in 3:23.18. The time was just more than a second shy of the indoor school record of 3:22.12.
“Our goal is to break the record and go to nationals in it,” Fraley said. “We should be on track to do it as long as we get a little stronger.”
The team has room to grow as it was the first time for the four to compete together. Migliara, a freshman, is transitioning from longer races.
“We put our four best people out there,” Missouri Southern men’s coach Tom Rutledge said. “We had been experimenting with different guys, but we put our best four out there.”
Fraley also won the 60-meter dash, posting another provisional qualifying time of 6.86 seconds. Fraley ran it in 6.85 seconds during preliminaries on Friday.
“I’m running it consistently,” Fraley said. “But I just need a breakout meet.”
The Lions also are looking to break through in the shot put. Missouri Southern’s Evan Moore and Seth Hackney placed third and fourth, respectively, and earned provisionals. However, their marks have been similar each week.
“Our throwers are good, but we’re just stagnated,” Rutledge said. “We’re not getting worse or better, so we probably need to fire the throws coach, which is me. But I’ve got to figure it out. They’re working hard, we just need to break through. We’re throwing the same thing every week, so I need to change things up.”
Missouri Southern sophomore Jayce Thomas held off Pittsburg State’s Jeff Piepenbrink to win the heptathlon Saturday by winning the 60-meter hurdles and finishing strong in the pole vault and 1,000 meters. He ran the 1,000 meters in 2:59.58 and earned 4,891 points compared to Piepenbrink’s 4,788.
“He had a great day today,” Rutledge said. “Jayce just went out and did it today. I told him that if he ran under 3 minutes in the 1,000, you’ll go to nationals. And he did.”
Pittsburg State’s Colbie Snyder, a Joplin High School graduate, won the pole vault with a provisional qualifying mark of 16-4.75 and just missed an automatic qualifying leap. Missouri Southern’s Michael Juergens, Brady Melugin and John Lowe finished second, third and fourth, respectively, and each recorded provisional marks.
The Missouri Southern women’s 1,600-meter relay team also wants the indoor school record. The team of Jasmin Hughes, Sydney Potts, Amber White and Emily Weldin ran the distance in 3:58.7 and finished second to Coffeyville. The school record in the event is 3:57.35.
“They got very close today, but they didn’t quite make it,” Missouri Southern women’s coach Patty Vavra said. “All four of them ran an exceptional leg today. It was nice to see them come together and do that.”
Missouri Southern’s Brittani Reagan won the triple jump with a leap of 38-6, improving on a previous provisional mark.
The Lions finished 1-2-3 in the pole vault with Melanie Bower (11-9), Sydney Haase (11-9) and Ashleigh McFarland (11-3). All three earned provisional marks, but they will need improved marks to make it to nationals.
“We had a good weekend,” Vavra said. “We were able to walk away this weekend with several provisionals and several improved marks.”
Missouri Southern will be sending limited teams to the Tyson Invitational at The University of Arkansas next weekend. The men also will be sending four athletes to Iowa State.