This past weekend the Wittenberg men’s and women’s track teams traveled to Denison University for the 2020 NCAC indoor track Championship meet. Both teams had a strong weekend. The women’s team finished with a total of 129 team points, setting a record for the most points scored at this Championship by the women’s team in Wittenberg history. The women’s team also saw four athletes qualify for the NCAA Division III Championship meet in Winston-Salem, NC. Meanwhile, the men took fourth place, racking up 72.25 team points of their own.
Before the meet even started, the men’s and women’s teams had already earned points. On Sunday Feb. 23, Zachary Guyer (’21), Stevie Plikerd (’22) and Taylor Barnhisel (’21) traveled to Denison to compete in the combined events of the heptathlon for the men and the pentathlon for the women. Guyer gave the men’s team a huge boost with his second place overall finish earning eight points. In total, he finished with 4,363 points in the combined event. On the women’s side, Plikerd also tallied 2,867 points to finish in fourth place. Barnhisel closed out the Tigers’ performance with an 11th place finish overall.
The Tigers continued this momentum this past weekend. On the women’s side, “shined bright.” Alexis Johnson (’21), Alexis Walker (’22), Alexis Gray (’20) and Plikerd gave their team a huge boost.
Johnson had a tremendous day in the field events. She finished first in the long jump with a jump of 5.53m, second in the triple while leaping to 11.39, and took sixth in the high jump. Plikerd also had a strong day in the high jump, landing herself in fourth place. Both athletes currently have a top 20 mark in Division III and are preparing for Nationals.
Walker, Johnson and Plikerd swept the 60m dash, taking positions one through three to own the podium. Walker also won the 200m dash with a time of 25.56s, which is the 14th fastest mark in Division III.
Gray topped the field in the 800m run, finishing in a blistering time of 2:11.60s. Her time beat her own Wittenberg record, but it also set the Championship meet record for the event. Gray is currently seeded at third in the nation with this time.
These four athletes were not the only Tigers to help their team. For the field events, Skylar Edwards (’23) and Leah Vogt (’23) finished fifth and seventh in shot put. Meanwhile, Preslee Rolf (’21) tied for fourth place in pole vault.
The runners also took care of business. Ryelee Clary (’21) took second in the 60m hurdles with a time of 9.19s. On top of this, she crossed the line in the 200m dash in fourth place. Barnhisel competed for the Tigers in the 400m dash and took home sixth place. Elizabeth Canright wrapped up the individual scoring with a fifth place finish in the 5,000m run.
The 4x200m relay of Plikerd, Rolf, Tiffany Moss (’23) and Seraye Bray (’23) took fourth place, while the 4x400m relay team of Walker, Barnhisel, Gray and Maxine Wishman (’22) closed out the meet for the Tigers with a second place finish.
This all translated to the a record number of team points and a third place finish for the women’s team, which finished behind Ohio Wesleyan and Oberlin.
The men also had a strong conclusion to their indoor season. The relay teams really added some punch to the men’s day and overall score. The 4x200m relay team of Tyler Branton (’20), Austin Albanese (’21), Ezekiel Bennett (’23) and David Haake (’21) took third place. To end the meet, the 4x400m team, consisting of Ian McCandlish (’23), Deven Ramsey (’23), Albanese and Bennett crossed the line in second place.
The 400m saw McCandlish, Albanese and Bennett finish in the top eight. Ramsey narrowly missed out on the podium individually by crossing the line in fourth place during his 800m run. Hurdlers Garrin Bachinski (’20) and Guyer both ended the meet in the top eight for the 60m hurdles.
In the field portion of events, Jonathan Seay took third place in the shot put with a toss of 14.56m. Paul Varnadoe (’22) and Jaycee Perry (’20) each added a second place finish in the long jump and high jump.
The men took fourth place, falling behind Wabash, Ohio Wesleyan and Denison.
Most Wittenberg track and field athletes will now begin preparing for outdoor season. However, Gray, Johnson, Plikerd and Walker will all prepare for Nationals on Mar. 13.