Track and field teams shine at TLU, UIW meets

Several personal and school records set by Tiger athletes this season

Sophomore Avery Puig runs with a baton in hand. Puig earned the title of SCAC Women’s Track Athlete of the Week for her performance at the Abilene Christian University Invitational.

After having the 2020 season cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, Trinity’s track and field teams have returned to the track (and field) for the complete 2021 season. With only one meet between now and the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) Championships, the Tigers have had a strong season so far.

According to the SCAC 2021 Outdoor Track and Field Performance list, the Tigers have at least one athlete ranked in the top five of every event in both the track and field categories for both the men’s and women’s teams. The teams’ success has been evident at recent meets.

Trinity’s women’s team dominated Texas Lutheran University’s (TLU) Division III Challenge meet on Saturday, March 27, with six athletes placing first in their respective individual events.

In the running events, first-year Cassandra Williams came first in the 800-meter run, senior Rylie Edwards came first in the 400-meter hurdles, and sophomore Maia Dykstra came first in the 3000-meter steeplechase.

The other top three performers from Trinity were senior Makenna Bentley in the high jump, senior Emma Pool in the pole vault and sophomore Jordyn White in the long jump.

Although track and field comprises many individual events, it is still a team sport. Each individual performance contributes to the team’s overall score and success. According to sophomore Avery Puig, who was awarded SCAC Women’s Track Athlete of the Week after her performance at the Abilene Christian Invitational on March 19 and 20, the team’s dynamic reflects how everyone works together.

“[It] is definitely individual like when you are competing, but practice wise, and just having someone there for you, your team is always going to be there for you, and it’s really nice to see. Even though track is individual you do have that team aspect,” Puig said.

The following week, both Trinity’s men’s and women’s teams ranked in sixth place at the two-day David Nobel Relay meet hosted by Angelo State University on April 1 and 2. Not only did the Tigers rank above the other conference team in attendance — TLU — but many Trinity athletes set personal bests and season bests. Some athletes even moved up the Trinity’ all-time list.

Junior Robert Slaybaugh moved to the third place spot in the Trinity all-time list after throwing a personal best of 40.69 meters in the hammer throw. Also earning a third place spot on the university all-time list was the Men’s 4×400-meter relay team, composed of representatives from each year: junior Sean Majors, senior Seve Rodriguez, first year Josue Parra, and sophomore Ethan Gilmore. The relay team finished in 3:19.87.

Senior Jacob Winchester threw a mark of 53.43 meters in the javelin, earning him both a personal best and the seventh place spot on the Trinity all-time list. After clearing 3.15 meters in the pole vault, sophomore Bailey Dueitt moved up a spot on the Trinity all-time list to seventh-place.

Strong performances from the Tigers continued this past weekend, back in San Antonio for the University of Incarnate Word (UIW) Invitational.

On Friday, April 10, junior Tanner Lacy cleared 4.75 meters in the pole vault, tying the 18-year old school record for men’s pole vault. Sophomore Kierra Francois broke a 20-year old school record in the women’s hammer throw with a mark of 41.75 meters. Francois followed up her record-breaking performance by moving up from seventh to fourth place on the Trinity all-time list in women’s discus with a mark of 38.80 meters on Saturday.

Francois and the rest of the women’s throwing team saw success at UIW. First-year Maggie Nava set a personal record in discus and earned the tenth place spot on the Trinity all-time list with a shot put throw of 10.62 meters. Both Francois and teammate sophomore Emma Ross also set a personal best in the shot put.

Despite the successful weekend, it is unlikely that the throwers from the women’s team will qualify for the NCAA Championships at the end of the season, according to Ross, so the throwers are focused on performing well at conference and scoring points for the team.

“The goal as a team is to just place, and I think as a girls team as a whole, we’d like to at least be runner ups. So, as a team earn enough points to be, like, in second place, but ideally we could win. […] To be honest with you, the marks you need to qualify for [Nationals] are pretty out of range for most, I think pretty much all the girls throwers right now. So, we’re not really looking to that, but there are some people on the track team that will qualify. Just, probably not the throwers,” Ross said.

The Tigers also saw many personal records set in the individual running events. Notably, Rodriguez beat his own eighth place school record in the 400-meter hurdles and Majors set a new personal best of 48.84 seconds in the 400-meter dash, securing a third place spot on the all-time list, less than a second off of the time of 48.33 seconds set by Head Football Coach Jerheme Urban in 2003.

Junior Sean Majors runs the 400-meter dash. Majors ran a personal best time of 48.84 seconds in the event at the University of the Incarnate Word Invitational. (Photo provided by Trinity’s Department of Athletics)

Prior to the UIW meet, Majors stated that after setting the new Trinity record for men’s long-jump, his goal for the season was to improve his 400-meter time.

“The main goal is to try to win conference going into the season. My goal was to try to get the long jump record. And so now that I’ve done that I just want to try to beat that mark, and for the 400 just trying to get my [personal record], and place high in conference,” Majors said.

How Majors and the rest of the Tigers fare at the SCAC Championships on April 24 and April 25 remains to be seen. Between then and now, Trinity will compete on April 16 and April 17 at the Cactus Cup in Kingsville, Texas.