The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

March 1, 2014

Morgan sets tone for Southern

PSU's Piepenbrink sixth in heptathlon

Thanks to Kaylee Morgan, Missouri Southern is four points ahead of schedule in the MIAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Morgan, a sophomore from Carthage, placed fifth with 3,459 points in the women’s pentathlon on Friday night at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.

“It was a great day,” Morgan said. “I came out and PR’d in all five of my pentathlon events. I wasn’t even supposed to score in this conference at all, and I came out with a fifth place and got some points for our team.”

Central Missouri’s Erin Alewine won the event with 3,901 points, 61 points ahead of teammate Madison Smith.

Emilyn Dearman of Pittsburg State, a freshman from Stockton, placed third with 3,520, and Nikki Wetstein of Emporia State was fourth with 3,517.

Morgan’s highest places in the individual events were a fourth in the long jump (18 feet, 53⁄4 inches), tie for fourth in the high jump (5-31⁄4) and sixth in the 60-meter hurdles (9.09). She also was 14th in the shot put (32-101⁄4) and 16th in the 800 (2:41.74).

“Kaylee had a great day,” Lions coach Patty Vavra said. “We’ve had a year where we haven’t had an opportunity really to train her for the 800. That’s not an event that comes easy for her.

“She had PRs for the season and in many cases for her career. In the hurdles she had only run 9.34 coming in and she ran 9.09. Then went to the high jump ... she got 5-2 last year and got 5-31⁄4 today. A better shot put for her, a PR this year for the long jump and the 800, you can’t ask for much more than that.

“I think she set the tone for what we would like to see the rest of our team do over the weekend,” Vavra said. “They were here supporting her in a big way, and I think they saw and are hopefully remembering that that’s what the team is about. You come and compete hard when it’s the conference championship, when it means the most. She gave us points that we weren’t supposed to get that we’re always looking for.”

This is Morgan’s second year competing in the pentathlon, but she said it hasn’t been any easier than the first year.

“I don’t think it’s ever easy,” she said with a laugh. “It’s always a struggle. Everybody who I competed against last year is doing better. I’m doing better. We’ve all just improved so much, and so it’s always a constant battle.

“I don’t think it will ever get easy. If it gets too easy, then you just have to make new challenges that make it not so easy.”

Field events and running preliminaries dominate today’s schedule, and Morgan is happy her next event is Sunday.

“I have a day to rest and get ready for the long jump on Sunday,” she said. “Today was enough to make me tired but not enough to shut me down. I’m very happy I don’t have any event (Saturday) because I know there are some girls who did this who are going to have more than one event (Saturday). So I’m one of the lucky ones on that part.”

In the men’s decathlon, Pittsburg State junior Jeff Piepenbrink sits in sixth place with 2,724 points after four events. It’s his best-ever Day 1 score by about 30 points.

Piepenbrink, from Jasper, finished third in the 60 (7.23), ninth in the long jump (21-01⁄2), fifth in the shot put (39-6) and tied for ninth in the high jump (5-111⁄4).

“It was pretty good,” Piepenbrink said. “I had ups, and I had a little bit of down — three ups and one down. I thought I would go 3 to 6 centimeters higher in the high jump, but altogether I’m not too upset.

“I had PRs in the 60 and long jump. Those were big ups, so that’s why I’m not too upset about the high jump. I’m close to average for myself.”

Today’s three events — 60 hurdles, pole vault and 1,000 meters — are usually big point-producers for Piepenbrink, who was ranked No. 6 nationally entering the meet.

“This is the big meet of the year,” he said. “This is what we all train for. This is way more intense than you can find anywhere else — even more intense than nationals.”

Top seed Dillon Schrodt of Nebraska-Kearney leads the event with 3,182 points, followed by Central Missouri’s Daniel McCarty (2,969) and Blake Seitz (2,933).

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