LEXINGTON, Va. (Jan. 18, 2020) – Tim Thacker, Nathan Baker, Bekah Owen and Avery DeWolf picked up national qualifying marks on a weekend that featured 12 personal bests for the Milligan College track & field team, as the Buffs continued indoor season at the Keydet Invitational, hosted by Virginia Military Institute, Friday and Saturday.
"For it being early in the season, I think the crew took advantage of this facility," Head Coach Chris Layne said. "To knock out as many national qualifiers and personal bests mid-January is encouraging."
Thacker picked up his qualifying mark Friday in the 1k, running a lifetime best and finishing third in the fast section with a time of 2:29.26, well under the A standard.
Baker, Owen and DeWolf followed a day later with national marks in the 3k with some impressive times. Baker ran his fastest ever 3k in a season opener with a time of 8:44.75 to finish fourth overall in a deep and competitive field of 36 runners. Owen also took fourth to lead three Buffs in the top seven with a personal best 10:16.54. DeWolf followed close behind in sixth with a national mark and personal best of 10:24.02.
Gabrielle Mardis rounded out the women in seventh in the 3k event.
"We had a number of young athletes get valuable experience this weekend," Layne said, "and our folks with high end nationals experience like Rasheem (Brown), Tim, Nathan and the distance women show they're continuing to move in the right direction."
National qualifying marks only tip of iceberg at successful meet
To go along with their four national qualifying marks, the Buffs added several more personal bests and high finishes. Rasheem Brown started the running events Friday advancing to the final of the 60 meters with the fourth best time, a personal best-matching 6.94. The mark narrowly missed the national mark of 6.93.
Skylan Stephens and Tons Ferguson also notched personal bests of 7.14 and 7.40, respectively, in the 60 meters, while Stephens followed later with a 31st of 52 finish in his collegiate debut of the 400 meters. Kiley Wood earned a personal best in the event on the women's side with a time of 8.31.
Brown returned Saturday with a win in the third section of the 200 meters in 22.36. It helped him land 12th overall in a field of 54.
Brown was not the only Buff to return the next day with another high mark in a second event. Thacker, after the national qualifier in Friday's 1k, came back Saturday to finish fourth overall in the men's 800 meters with a time of 1:56.40. Freshman Alex Windham took ninth in the event in 1:59.41.
Rounding up the Buffaloes' personal bests
Cameron Higgins kicked off Friday's session with a personal best and Appalachian Athletic Conference standard 11.67 meter throw in the weight throw. Mitch Bronstetter followed later on Friday finishing fourth in section one of the 1k in a personal best 2:41.45.
Sam Wehner and Hannah Bell rounded out the running events with personal bests in the mile. Wehner won his section and took fifth overall in a personal best 4:26.26. Bronstetter competed in the same event and took 18th in the deep field of 41. Bell ran nine seconds faster than her previous best and finished in 5:31.77, which helped her take 18th. She was one of a handful of Milligan women in the top 20 in the field of 45, as Katlyn Haas finished eighth (5:18.96) and Erica Stone took 14th (5:23.43).
Milligan is down to a handful of events on the schedule prior to the Appalachian Athletic Conference Championships and NAIA Indoor National Championships. Next up will be a trip to the Finn Pincus Invitational next weekend. The Buffs will compete locally, in ETSU's Buccaneer Invitational, the following weekend.