By: Ryan Schadewald, track and field assistant
TIFFIN, Ohio - The Bluffton University track and field team kicked off the 2018-19 season with several great performances at the Tiffin Alumni Open on Saturday, Dec. 1.
Starting on the ladies side, junior Tori Bowen (Wapakoneta/Elida) began her conference title defense in the pole vault with a second-place finish at the season-opener, clearing 3.42 meters.
The distance squad also put up some solid performances as they switched from grass to the track, led by sophomore Bailie Barrington (Waynesfield/Waynesfield-Goshen) who grabbed a pair of top 10 finishes. Barrington started her day with a fifth-place showing in the 1-mile run with a time of 5:38.90 and followed that up with a seventh-place mark in the 800 meter run with a time of 2:33.10. Senior Tami Groff (Versailles) also placed just behind Barrington in the 1-mile run with a time of 6:06.84
Bluffton had five of the 12 runners in the 3000 meter run, led by junior Alexis Cash (Gaines, Mich./Lake Fenton) who placed fifth with a time of 10:58.98. Senior Jennie Matteson (Guysville/Alexander) and sophomore Kimberly Hetrick (Fremont/Ross) also garnered top 10 finishes, going eighth and ninth, respectively.
On the men's side, junior Connor Gulick (St. Louisville/Utica) highlighted the day with his third-place finish in the 800 meter run, finishing in a time of 2:02.61, just a few tenths off of his career best.
Freshman Austin Hernandez (Marion/Ridgedale) added a second-place finish in the 1000 meter run with a time of 2:59.40.
In the 3000 meter run, junior Dakota Frost (Hicksville) and senior Jonah Eckert (Terre Haute, Ind./West Vigo) continued their cross country success with solid performances by placing third and fourth with times of 9:31.44 and 9:43.10, respectively.
Sophomore Dontarrie Johnson (Hamler/Patrick Henry) led the sprint squad by placing 44th out of 66 men in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.40 while placing 16th out of 49 runners in the 200 meter dash with a time of 23.91 seconds.
The first day on the track wrapped up in the 4x400 meter relay, where freshmen Brandon James (Waynesfield/Waynesfield-Goshen), William Bakeman (Clinton Twp,, Mich./Clintondale) and Hernandez teamed up with Gulick. The junior anchored the race and made a big comeback, falling just short of winning the heat, as the men's relay finished fifth overall with a time of 3:43.16.
Junior John Jones (Cincinnati/Walnut Hills) led the way for the field events, placing 28th out of 42 athletes in the shot put with a best toss of 11.98 meters (39 feet, 3.75 inches).
The Beavers will take a break through the holidays before returning to action on Saturday, Jan. 12 at the Findlay Open.