Murray, KY – A trio of wins and a pair of school records marked a significant step forward for Austin Peay State University track and field at the Margaret Simmons Invitational at Stewart Stadium, Saturday.
With a team total of 56 points, the Govs finished sixth in this event; the host Racers won with 155.75 points.
The Karlijn and Kenisha Show took another step forward in another big meet. Sophomore Kenisha Phillips was the 200-meter dash victory with a 23.93 mark that moves her into the NCAA East Top-20 and equaled Breigh Jones’ school record from the 2015 Ohio Valley Conference Outdoor Championships; her counterpart, Karlijn Schouten, won the pole vault thanks to her own career-best 4.01-meter mark in the event.
“Karlijn looked really strong again,” said Austin Peay head coach Valerie Brown. “She’ll be at 4.15 (meters) in the next meet or two; she’s been on a roll. Kenisha equaled her indoor best and continues to just come out every day with a great attitude and work ethic. She didn’t have anyone pushing the pace the way we thought she might in this event; she did the hard work on her own.”
The other victory came on the leaping ability of Denia Hill-Tate, whose 1.69-meter high jump mark gave her the victory on a career-best mark. Once she passes that mark, she’ll move into the program’s all-time top-10 in the outdoor high jump.
The throws contingent for the Governors exhibited an outstanding across-the-board effort Saturday. All four Govs either earned at least one top-10 finish, or a personal-best or both on a strong day that speaks to the work they’ve put in under throws assistant Jasmine Sensabaugh.
One of the records that fell, which previously belonged to Sensabaugh, now has Kori McDaniel’s name beside it. The junior’s 49.27-meter fling placed her third overall in the event and would move her comfortably into the league’s top-five based on the marks entering the weekend. She also hit 40.70 meters in the discus (fourth) and 12.03 meters in the shot put (seventh) as part of a stellar all-around day.
But it wasn’t just McDaniel who was outstanding on Saturday. Jackie Verseman (43.02 meters, eighth), Maria Hillyard (42.88 meters, ninth) and Shyanna Chapman (42.83 meters, 10th) didn’t just all earn top-10 finishes in Murray; their Saturday marks rank fourth, fifth and seventh in program history in the event. Verseman also placed third in the discus at 40.78 meters and Chapman brought home another top-10 in the javelin with a 30.10 meter mark.
“Our throwers were outstanding today,” Brown said. “Coach Sensabaugh has really made a difference with them, and it’s paying off in their all-around performance. That’s a group you can tell is really moving in the right direction.”
On the track, Sara Martin continues an outstanding spring; after a pair of personal-bests last week, she roared out to a third-place finish in the 5000-meter on Saturday with an 18:43.57 mark, less than three seconds off her personal-best. Martin also led a 4×800-meter relay quartet along with Mikaela Smith, Molly Howard and Keleah Shell to a third-place finish at 9:35.37 to pick up six points.
Both Allana Johnson (59.57 in the 400-meter dash) and Maya-Perry Grimes (25.57 in the 200-meter dash) both just missed the top-10 in their respective events, finishing 11th. Perry-Grimes carried her success into the field events as well, placing fifth in the long jump with a 5.58-meter leap. In her first outing as a Gov in the triple jump, Jessica Hoban took ninth in the event with a 10.86-meter mark.
“This meet today shows that we can compete at a high level,” Brown said. “Everyone is getting better, rallying around one another. Team morale is heading in the right direction. Coaches have done a good job putting people in the right headspace. The more we continue to grow in the direction we’re going in, we’ll be in the mix when it counts.”
The Govs return to action next weekend at the Western Kentucky-hosted Hilltopper Relays in Bowling Green Kentucky.