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Clarion Women’s Track & Field Set for PSAC Indoor Championships
CLARION, Pa. – With a small contingent of athletes headed to the PSAC Indoor Track & Field Championships this weekend at Edinboro, Clarion University head coach D.J. Bevevino isn’t as concerned about the number of points the Golden Eagles score as he is with how his athletes perform individually.
“Because of our number of qualifiers, team points aren’t important to me,” Bevevino, who is taking eight individual athletes and one relay team to the championships, said. “Individual performances are much more important. We want them to go into this feeling they are ready to compete at the best level they have had so far this indoor season. There is no reason, if we are healthy, to not believe they can go in and improve their performances and be better than they have been at any point this season. That’s the goal.”
While the Golden Eagles number of competitors might be smaller than other teams, Clarion has a few athletes who are more than capable of scoring points.
Junior Allyson Cress is right at the forefront of those athletes.
Cress is seeded fifth in the shot put and has had plenty of success in her first two years in PSAC championship competition. She was sixth in the shot put at last year’s PSAC Indoor Championships with a throw of 41-feet, 1 1/2-inches and followed that up by taking seventh at the 2012 Outdoor Championships with a toss of 39-7. She was also second at in the discuss at last season’s outdoor meet and finished third in the shot put at the 2011 outdoor championships while being named a United States Track & Field and Cross Country Association All-Region performer in the shot put. Her best throw this season is 39-2 ½.
“Ally probably has the best chance to score of all of our athletes,” Bevevino said. “She has the experience, and on paper should be the one who should score and place the highest. She needs to stay positive. That is a big thing with Ally. If she can go into this meet feeling confident and stay positive even if she doesn’t have a good throw in warm-ups or right away, she has the potential to be in the top three or four. If she stays confident, she should do well.”
Another athlete with plenty of success at championship meets for Clarion is junior Sarah Loughner.
Loughner is seeded 10th in the high jump with a season-best leap of 5-1, and she has plenty of experience scoring points in PSAC competition finishing sixth in the high jump at last year’s indoor meet with a jump of 5-2 ¼ after taking eighth in the 2011 outdoor meet, tied for seventh at the 2011 indoor meet and fourth in the 2010 outdoor meet. She just missed scoring at last season’s outdoor meet taking ninth with a jump of 5-1 ¼.
Senior Kristine Mellor is seeded just in front of Loughner at ninth with a jump of 5-1 3/4, and is looking to score for the first time at a conference meet.
‘They are both right there,” Bevevino said of Loughner and Mellor. “They are right on the cusp of scoring. Week-in-and-week-out, they’ve jumped pretty consistently, and it’s always been right around the qualifying mark or just a little bit over it. They are going to have to have a better jump than what they are currently jumping to score. I think they are going to have to go a couple of inches higher than they have this year, which they are both capable of doing. They have both been here before, so this is not new stuff for them. If we can get them feeling confident about the approach to the bard and everything else they are doing, then the excitement and adrenaline of the meet will help them a little bit and maybe they will come up with a big jump.”
A newcomer Bevevino is excited about is freshman Kristen Belko, who will compete in the Pentathlon as well as the triple hump and 60-meter hurdles. She is seeded eighth in the Pentathlon, 10th in the high jump (tied with Loughner) and 12th in the triple jump.
“She has a couple of things going for her,” Bevevino said. “Fortunately, she was on a state-championship team in high school, so she has been to a big competition where the team has done well and has that big-meet experience. And, she has come right out this year from the first meet on and there hasn’t been a meet where she hasn’t had at least one of her events where she has either met or exceeded the PSAC-qualifying standard. So, she has done it all.”
Under the right circumstances, Bevevino believes Belko could do very well in the Pentathlon.
“The Pentathlon is going to be the big mystery,” Bevevino said. “She’s only done it once in her life. She could do very well. It’s just a matter of does she understand what it might involve, and on top of that she is going to try a couple of different events.”
Three additional athletes for Clarion who have championship-meet experience are junior Jessica Vitous, junior Megan Toddy and sophomore Anna Pfingstler.
Vitous is seeded 14th in the long jump, 12th in the Pentathlon and 20th in the 60-meter hurdles. She just missed qualifying for the finals in the hurdles at last year’s meet running 9.74, a half-second off the qualifying mark. She also took 25th in the long jump. Vitous set the school indoor record in the long jump this season with a leap of 17 3 ¼.
Toddy was 21st in the 5,000 last year and is seeded 26th in the meet this year, although her primary objective during the indoor season has been to prepare for the outdoor campaign according to Bevevino. She was an All-Region performer in cross country in the fall taking 18th.
“We’ve looked at it as can we use this training time for the outdoor season,” Bevevino said. “The indoor season is a lot about trying to get us in a better position for outdoors because we don’t have a facility to truly train indoor athletes here.”
Pfingstler is seeded 40th in the 60-meter dash, and is in her first championship meet since the 2011 outdoor championships after sitting out last year. In 2011, she just missed qualifying for the finals in both 100-meter and 200-meter dash setting the school outdoor record in the 100. She was also a member for the 4×400-meter relay team that took sixth.
Clarion will also have a 4×400 relay team competing at the championships. Some combination of Belko, Loughner, Pfingstler, sophomore Tanea Lehman and freshman Danielle Konopski will form the team, which hasn’t run the event in competition this year.
NOTES – Clarion has finished 14th at each of the last two indoor championships scoring nine points last year. The Golden Eagles were 11th in 2010 and eighth in 2009.