By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
Up until several months ago, Missouri Southern freshman Kaylee Morgan had never even practiced the shot put.
But the Carthage High School graduate earned high enough marks in the shot put, 60-meter hurdles, high jump, long jump and 800 meters to win the women’s indoor pentathlon at the MSSU Lion Invite on Friday at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.
The meet will continue today at Missouri Southern.
A sprinter and long jumper in high school, all but one of the events were new to Morgan.
“It felt really good,” she said. “I didn’t really expect it. I expected to do well. I didn’t expect to win.
“I didn’t really start learning how to do all of it until I got here.”
Morgan tallied 3,029 points for first place, finishing ahead of Pittsburg State’s Jessica Reichenberger (2,861), Missouri Southern’s Emily Paullus (2,839), Pittsburg State’s Ashley Baier (2,548) and Missouri Southern’s Miriah Johnson (2,534).
A state medalist in the long jump last year, Morgan won the event in the pentathlon Friday by well over a foot with a leap of 16 feet, 9.75 inches. She also won the high jump with a leap of 5-2.5. She was second in the shot put (31-3.25), fourth in the 60-meter hurdles (9.77) and fifth in the 800 meters (2:50.5).
“Our conference is extremely competitive in the multi-events, but I think she can be a contender now and definitely in the future,” Missouri Southern women’s coach Patty Vavra said. “Even nationally, I think she is someone who can qualify for the national meet, whether it will be this year or down the road. But she’s got that kind of potential. There is still a lot of room to improve. But it’s really nice to get that first one under her belt.”
Missouri Southern’s Brittani Reagan and Taitum Mead earned provisional qualifying marks in the long jump with second- and fourth-place finishes, respectively. Reagan leaped 18-5.25, and Mead jumped 18-2.25. Reagan is now between the top 15 and top 20 in the nation, Vavra said.
“Tatum continues to improve week after week,” Vavra said. “It seems like some others have been struggling after the Christmas break. She has just stepped up week in and week out. It was a great series of jumps for her and Brittani.”
On the men’s side, Missouri Southern senior Evan Moore won the weight throw by more than three feet and improved his provisional mark by more than two feet with a distance of 58-3.25.
However, things didn’t start well for Moore. His first four throws were 54-3, 54-1 and consecutive fouls.
But Moore made the most of his final two throws. He had a distance of 56-9 on his fifth and the 58-3.25 on his final attempt.
Moore said a clap started by his teammates gave him a little extra energy on the final throw.
“It was a little rough in the beginning,” Moore said. “Toward the end I got going. On the last one, they started the clap and it got me going. It gave me goosebumps. As soon as I let it go, I knew it was good.”
Moore, Seth Hackney and Dustin Green will all compete for the Lions in the shot put today.
“We’re hoping to get all three of our throwers to nationals,” Missouri Southern men’s coach Tom Rutledge said. “They’re starting to all come around on the shot, and Evan’s starting to come around a little faster in the weight throw.”
Missouri Southern sophomore Anthony Price earned a provisional time of 22.48 seconds, placing fifth in the 200 meters.
The Lions’ sophomore Jayce Thomas leads the heptathlon after the first four events with 2,634 points. Pittsburg State sophomore Jeff Piepenbrink is close behind with 2,555. The heptathlon will continue at 9 a.m. today with the 60-meter hurdles, the pole vault and the 1,000 meters.
“Jayce is about 140 points behind schedule, but he’s ahead of last year,” Rutledge said. “He’s a better hurdler and pole vaulter. It will come down to him and (Piepenbrink). He’s great in the pole vault, and he’s a good hurdler. It will come down to the 1,000 meters.”