Despite merely being happy to get back into action after losing participation in one meet to January’s blizzard, the Eastern Mennonite University track men and women had some lofty efforts at the Camel City Invitational in Winston-Salem, N.C. Participating in fields of mostly D-II and D-I athletes, the Royals made their marks by breaking two school records.
For the men, Alec Thibodeaux (Mount Sidney, Va./Fort Defiance) took nearly six seconds off of his indoor PR in the 3000m, coming across in a time of 8:43.68 to re-break his own school record of 8:49.20 from the CNU Holiday Open in December.
A foursome of Tyler Denlinger (Perkasie, Pa./Christopher Dock), Connor Faint (Winchester, Va./Millbrook), Jonathan Bush (Pottstown, Pa./Owen J. Roberts) and Thibodeaux destroyed the program record in the distance medley relay. The foursome crossed in 10:29.09, topping the 2013 record of 10:37.15 by more than eight seconds and bumping the Royals to the No. 11 spot in the nation this season.
Denlinger set his indoor PR in the 800m, stopping the watch at 1:56.50. He moves to the second-best time in the event in EMU history. Luke Yoder set the record of 1:55.84 in 2007. Denlinger also sits at No. 23 in the nation so far this season with the time.
A pair of young runners made a splash in the 400m. Faint, a sophomore, clocked at 51.41 to win his heat and earn 21st overall. Faint PRed with the effort and moved up two spots to No. 8 in the EMU history books. Sampson, a freshman, knocked 0.01 of his PR to take sole possession of No. 9 in the books at 51.65.
Ryan Gehman (Millersville, Pa./Lancaster Mennonite) had a successful re-entry to the track season, as he punched an ODAC spot in the 5000m. The 2014 S/SE Region Athlete of the Year in cross country, Gehman finished his race in 16:18.61.
Jeremy Heizer (Staunton, Va./Riverheads) improved upon his EMU No. 2 distance in the weight throw. His best toss landed at 14.87m (48-9.5ft), an improvement of more than two feet. Nathan Turner holds the EMU record at 15.77m (51-9ft). In the shot put, Heizer landed at 14.18m (46-6.25ft).
For his efforts, he was named ODAC Field Athlete of the Week.
Nuriddin Abdus-Salaam (Charlotte Court House, Va./Randolph Henry) punched an ODAC ticket in the 200m, winning his heat in 23.69. He also participated in the long jump, sticking his best landing at 6.07m (19-11ft).
Grant Amoateng (Bristow, Va./Patriot) made just one of his three attempts in the triple jump, but it was good enough to tie him for No. 7 in EMU history at 12.83m (42-1.25ft).
Meanwhile on the women’s side, Hannah Chappell-Dick (Bluffton, Ohio/Bluffton) put herself fourth in the nation in the mile run with her time of 5:02.05. The All-American was the top D-III runner at the meet and took fifth overall. Chappell-Dick broke the finish line seventh overall in the 800m with a time of 2:16.02. She is ninth in the nation with the time. She was named ODAC Athlete of the Week for her win.
Three other women ran in the 800m, with each earning an ODAC-qualifying time. Brittany Williams (King George, Va./King George) had a PR of 2:30.74, jumping herself to No. 6 on the all-time EMU charts. Freshman Maria Yoder (Manheim, Pa./Hempfield) shaved more than a second off of her first collegiate race with a time of 2:31.21 to take No. 8 in EMU history, and Juni Schirch (Goshen, Ind./Goshen) came in at 2:33.60.
The distance medley relay team of Chappell-Dick, Williams, Yoder and Schirch had a solid time of 13:42.21.
In the field events, sophomore Oksana Kittrell (Bedford, Va./Liberty) was the lone EMU representative. She just missed her indoor PR in the triple jump, landing at 10.55m (34-7.5ft). In the long jump she measured at 4.44m (14-7.0 feet).
The Royals head to Selinsgrove, Pa., next Saturday for the Crusader Challenge hosted by Susquehanna University.