APSU Sports Information
Oxford, AL – A successful defense of sophomore Savannah Amato‘s gold medal in the pole vault was one of several highlights for Austin Peay State University track and field on the second day of the 2017 Ohio Valley Conference Outdoor Championships at Choccolocco Park.
In fact, so successful was Friday’s outing that the Govs find themselves second in the team standings with 43.33 points, behind only Eastern Illinois (59). Southeast Missouri (36), SIU Edwardsville (35.33) and Jacksonville State (29.33) round out the top-five, with Murray State (28.5) and Tennessee State (26) lurking near the upper echelon of the standings.
“We had another solid day,” said head coach Doug Molnar. “We put ourselves in contention tomorrow, and we didn’t hurt ourselves today. That’s a big thing in a meet like this.”
Amato and sophomore Dascha Hix each recorded 3.86m (12-8.00) marks in the pole vault, with Amato earning the top spot on the podium based on number of attempts. It’s her second straight gold in the OVC Outdoor games—she set the meet record with a 4.04m mark last season at Tennessee State—and third consecutive gold overall.
A mere six inches kept it from being an Austin Peay sweep in the pole vault. Junior Gretchen Rosch hit 3.56m (11-8.00), behind only Southeast Missouri’s Sierra Maddox. In total, 23 of Austin Peay’s points came via the pole vault.
“Going 1-2-4 in the pole vault was huge for us and huge for our score,” Molnar said. “Those guys did a great job, just fantastic.”
Much of the rest of the Governors tally on Friday came via the standout jumps duo of Kaylnn Pitts and Chancis Jones, who comprised two-thirds of the long jump podium. Both hit personal-bests in the long jump, with Jones recording a 6.13m (20-1.50) mark to earn the bronze.
Pitts, meanwhile, narrowly outdistanced her longtime teammate with a personal-best 6.14m (20-1.75) leap to take silver. Although the NCAA East long jump pool has never been deeper, both improved their chances for a return trip to the regional.
“They were the top two for a lot of the competition, but (Tennessee State’s) Amber Hughes came back like a beast late,” Molnar said. “Hats off to her, she did that against two of our all-time greats.”
Although she did not get a return trip to the podium, senior Christiana Harris added three points to the Governors final tally. Her 36.45m (119-7.25) javelin throw placed her second in the event and eventually sixth overall at 4,345 points, one point outside the top-five.
The final .33 the Govs gained Friday belonged to sophomore Nia Gibbs-Francis, whose 1.60m (5-3.00) high jump put her in a three-way tie with Jacksonville State’s Erica Edwards and SIU Edwardsville’s Lauren White.
The Govs will have several chances to add to the final numbers on the track Saturday after several strong qualifying showings. Senior Myiah Johnson qualified third in the 100m hurdles, with a 13.81 mark; she seeks yet another medal to cap her Austin Peay career.
“We really stepped up in some solid races today,” Molnar said. “That was the best Myiah has run a prelim in her life.”
Perhaps the most surprising showing belong to Tymeitha Tolbert. Entering the meet ranked ninth in the OVC in the 100m dash, Tolbert qualified third for Saturday’s final and won Heat Two on Friday with a blistering 12.00 mark.
Tolbert will be joined in the 100m dash final by freshman Garielle Netter, who was hot on her heels at 12.02 in qualifying. Netter narrowly missed advancing in the 200m dash as well, finishing ninth at 24.89, less than a tenth of a second from top-eight mark.
Paired together in Heat Three, senior Terri Morris and freshman Amelia Thiesing moved on to the finals of the 400m dash. Morris qualified sixth (56.35) and Thiesing seventh (57.63), with freshman Jala Allen (57.70) three-hundredths of a second out of the top-eight.
“Tymeitha looked great,” Molnar said. “She got off to an unbelievable start. Garielle did her usual thing, Terri made the finals and Thiesing stepped up with a great race too.”
Final-day action begins 11:00am, Saturday. LetsGoPeay.com will have a full recap with photos and video, and periodic updates via @AustinPeayXCTF on Twitter.
“We’ve got plenty of people coming back tomorrow,” Molnar said. “Lots of qualifiers, more jumpers and the relays, which will be huge for us.”