APSU Sports Information
Nashville, TN – In what amounted to an SEC event, Austin Peay State University track and field held its own and then some at the 2017 Commodore Invitational, a two-day event at the Vanderbilt Multipurpose Facility.Facing off against eight SEC squads including the host Commodores, a still-young Austin Peay squad acquitted itself nicely in the season’s third meet, leaving head coach Doug Molnar pleased with the progress of his team.
“We more than held our own in one of the country’s top meets. It’s definitely the best regular-season indoor meet we’ve ever attended,” Molnar said. “If this group can keep this momentum going, I don’t think we’re intimidated by running against some of the best teams in the country. (This was) basically an SEC event this weekend and we went toe-to-toe with them.
Sophomore Nia Gibbs-Francis got the weekend off to a strong start Friday night with a ninth-place, 1.66m high jump attempt that served not only as a personal-best and the best mark by a Gov through three meets—it also was Austin Peay’s best indoor high jump since 2014 and would move her into the top-five among Ohio Valley Conference competitors based on marks entering the weekend.
In Saturday’s field competition, sophomore Savannah Amato posted a season-best 3.79m mark to snag a sixth-place pole vault finish, while senior Chancis Jones‘ fifth-place triple jump finish was best by a Gov in the event; her 12.16m mark was her best indoor attempt since the 2015 OVC Indoor Championships.
“Nia was fantastic in the high jump, looked really good Friday night and got us going,” Molnar said. “Chancis and Savannah did a fantastic job.”
A trio of runners earned top-20 marks in incredibly deep fields; senior Terri Morris was 20th (out of 57) in the 400m dash with a season-best 57.74 attempt, while classmate Myiah Johnson posted an 8.97 mark in the 60m hurdles. Freshman Diamond Battle’s 7.69 attempt in the 60m dash was two-hundredths of a second off her career-best and earned her 20th as well.
In the 5000m run, junior Sarah-Emily Woodward placed 12th overall with a 20:00.59, her best indoor 5K attempt since her freshman season.
The Governors 4x400m relay team of Morris, Allysha Scott, Maya Perry-Grimes and Amelia Thiesing shaved nearly 10 seconds off the previous Austin Peay best in 2016-17 with a 3:51.53 mark, finishing 12th overall; the Governors were not able to break 3:52 last season in the 4x400m event until the last week of January.
“We’re way ahead of where we were a year ago at this point,” Molnar said. “If this group can keep this momentum going, I don’t think we’re intimidated by running against some of the best teams in the country. This group is coming along and they’re going to get better and better.”
Austin Peay continues a busy January at next weekend’s John Craft Invite, hosted by Eastern Illinois.