Birdman Open provides plenty of spark for MNSU track and field

The Minnesota State track and field teams had one more regular season meet to attempt to qualify for the conference and national meets coming up.

“The goals of the Birdman Open were qualifying some final athletes to the conference qualifying lists, as well as continuing to improve national qualifying marks for certain athletes. We definitely accomplished what we set out for with many outstanding performances,” said assistant coach Chris Parno.

Those outstanding performances included a number of Lady Mavericks that participated in the meet. In the women 60-meter dash, Sophomore Gabi Gaines finished first ahead of teammate Brieanna Puckett by 1/100th of a second with a time of 7.68. Staying with the sprinters, sophomore Afure Adah took home first place in the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.71 and senior Taylor Naatz placed first in the 400-meter dash (59.93).

The lady Mavericks also flourished in the middle-distance races. In the women’s 600-meter run, sophomore Mary Fixsen took home the gold with a time of 1:42.03. In the women’s 800-meter, senior Haley Kruger won with a time of 2:12.94 and sophomore Megan Serratore took second (2:23.24).

Performance of the day, however, may have gone to senior Altoniece Williams in the 60-meter hurdles. She ran a national-leading time of 8.44 and is really running well heading into conference and NCAA meets.

As for the men, they also performed extremely well at the Birdman Open. Sweeping the 60-meter dash, the Mavericks took first, second and third in the event. Sophomore Artavius Nixon took third (7.17), freshman Cole Barcroft took second (7.06), and sophomore Vance Barnes took home first in the event with a time of 6.86. Barnes also took first in the 200-meter dash (22.94). In the 60-meter hurdles, the Mavericks placed the top 2 sprinters as senior Myles Hunter (7.99) and sophomore Anyah Nutter (8.32) took first and second respectively. In the 400-meter dash, junior Derek Finsterwalder took first with a time of 51.61.

The quartet of John Schuster, Isaiah Pitchford, Tanner Ogren and Morris Dennis broke a school record in the 4×400 meter relay while solidifying themselves with the fifth best time in the nation (3:15.78).

The field events were wildly successful for both the men and women. In the high jump, both teams swept the event. On the women’s side, sophomore Khadiya Hollingsworth won the event with a jump of 5’8. For the men, Sophomore Anyah Nutter took home first (6’6.75). The men and women also won both weight throw events and performed well in events such as pole vault and triple jump.

Heading into the NSIC Conference meet and NCAA meet, MNSU feels as though they will be strongly represented.

“We should have around 20 athletes between the men and the women representing MSU at the national championships. With both teams ranked in the top-10 nationally, all the athletes that will be in Birmingham for nationals have been carrying the team all year,” Parno said.

MNSU will compete at the NSIC indoor meet this coming weekend. The meet is held at Myers Field House and will begin in the morning.

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