West Virginia University students are starting their finals countdown, and the women’s outdoor track and field is doing the same.
This weekend, the ladies travel to Philadelphia for the Penn Relays. The three day-event begins today and ends Saturday. Once all events are concluded, West Virginia’s regular season will be a thing of the past.
After failing to appear in the top 25 of the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association again, the Mountaineers do not have a good chance at making it to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship as a team.
The bright side is that West Virginia still has a good chance at sending multiple athletes to the NCAA Championship. The Mountaineers last competed at the Virginia Challenge and Jesse Owens Classic last week. West Virginia won the pole vault and high jump categories at the Virginia Challenge.
Sophomore Madelin Gardner captured the pole vault category with a 3.90 meter jump. Senior Hannah Stone leaped 1.74 meters to win the high jump.
Head coach Sean Cleary called it “the best weekend” of the outdoor track and field season.
“Coming off of a very nice meet a week ago, I wondered how we might respond,” Cleary said. “While we still have some holes to fill, I am especially pleased that we continued to build momentum.”
Gardner and Stone weren’t the only Mountaineers that Cleary lauded.
“Danique (Bryan) and Shamoya (McNeil) jumped well this weekend,” Cleary said. “Danique had her best meet since arriving at West Virginia. Maddie (Gardner) was jumping again at her lifetime best while winning the vault, and (Sara) Finfrock sets a six-inch personal best. That group continues to develop. Megan (Yuan) had a college best in the hurdles, while (Hannah) Stone also in a winning jump narrowly missed a lifetime mark. In the distance races Megan and Savanna (Plombon) both ran themselves into consideration for the NCAA Championships.”
Gardner’s victory represented the third straight weekend that a Mountaineer won the pole vault. Senior Tori Bertrand won it the last two weekends at the Mason Spring Invitational and the Bison Outdoor Classic. Cleary did not mention Bertrand after a tough weekend that saw Bertrand finish 15th.
Now the Mountaineers travel to Eastern Pennsylvania. The Penn Relays have been going on since 1895, easily the oldest event in North American track and field history.
West Virginia looks to make some history of its own. In Cleary’s eight years as head coach, the Mountaineers have sent at least one runner to the NCAA Championship all but one time. The team likely won’t make it as a whole, but many members still have a shot.
Women’s competition at the Penn Relays begins at 4 p.m. today. Events the following day begin at the same time and begin at 9 a.m on Saturday.