Battling a wildly inconsistent weekend of weather, the Southern Oregon Track and Field team got back into action after a week layoff from competition at the 2nd annual Raider Invitational. It was a bountiful weekend for the squad, with four national qualifying “A” marks hit and new school records established.
The first school record came on Friday night under the lights, as Jessa Perkinson continued her string of impressive outings on the track with a captivating performance in the 5,000 meter race. Keeping the race close for the most of the duration, Perkinson used a devastating surge to break away from her opponent, winning the race in a time of 17:12.31.
Drawing on her religious faith, it’s clear what exactly fuels Perkinson. “For the entire race, I was singing a worship song in my head. I kept repeating ‘Praise Him under open skies, everything breathing praising God.’ It gave me so much peace knowing it was a beautiful night and we’re all just out here doing the same thing – making the most of these opportunities.” Humble words coming from someone who bested the runner up finisher by 24 seconds.
The time secures Perkinson a trip to the 5,000 meter race at the NAIA National Championship meet in May. She’ll have a decision to make though, as she has already grabbed an “A” mark for the 10,000 meter race. The record marks the second one she has taken down this season. Last month Perkinson set the school record in the 10,000 meters at the San Francisco State Distance Carnival.
Perkinson wasn’t the only distance member to hit an “A” qualifying mark. Setting the second school record of the weekend, and joining her at the national meet will be the 4×800 meter relay team–which consists of Kayle Blackmore, Aspen Abbott, Bree Weber and Natalie Berania. The quartet took home the victory in 9:18.88. On the men’s side, Jared Hixon continued his resurrection; he won the 5k in a time of 14:44.56. The time just nabbed the mark by less than .50 seconds. It’s Hixon second “A” mark of the season (1500 meters).
In the sprints, it was all Raiders in the women’s competitions. In the 100 meters, the first four finishers were SOU runners (Margot Hamman – Rakayla Tyler – Logan Sprauer – Tierra Barrett) and in the 200 meters, SOU finished 1-3-6 (Tyler – Hamman – Sprauer). Hamman and Tyler now sit at #1 and #2 on the CCC list for the 100 meters–important to note, considering the CCC championships are coming up. For the men, it was another day at the office for the CCC’s #1 sprinter–freshmen Julius Shellmire–who improved on his conference leading time in the 100 meters with a 10.69 performance, good for 3rd place (note: SOU redshirt junior Matthew East won the race in 10.63). Cedric Quartey moved himself up the CCC list in the 200 meters, running 22.09; he would later double back and run the 400 meters in 49.80, which makes him the first Raider to break 50 seconds in the 400 meters this year.
Not to be forgotten, the throwers and jumpers shined on the eventful weekend. In the long jump, freshman Zach Beltz leaped 23’9 while on his to way to victory and–more importantly–grabbed an “A” mark for the national meet. Beltz currently sits at #2 on the CCC list. What’s remarkable about Beltz’s jump is considering his seasonal best before this weekend: 22’8. He jumped an incredible 13 inches farther than his previous mark. Thrower Tylor King, who has already qualified for the national meet, won the shot put while beating his seasonal best with a throw of 55-5¼. King is quite literally the king of the CCC, sitting at #1 on the list for the shot put.
Alongside the invitational, Raider Stadium was the host of the CCC multi-event championships. The two-day event proved to be a spectacle for those watching the lone Southern Oregon competitor–freshman Joe Dotson. The decathlon consists of 10 events: 100 meters, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400 meters, 110 hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1500 meters. Points are earned based on the performance in the event. Coming into day 2 of the event, Dotson was in third place. Three personal bests later and Dotson was on the verge of second place entering the final event: the 1500 meters. Reminiscent of prior days’ performance, Dotson powered himself to another personal best and a win with a time of 4:39.91. The finish capitulated Dotson from third to second, and earned him a trip to the national championship meet. A sign of brighter things to come? The freshman decathlete is now ranked #3 in the NAIA.
This weekend the Raiders will wrap up their regular season at the Mt. Hood Invitational in Gresham, Oregon on April 30. It will be the last meet before a week break ahead of the CCC championships (May 13 – May 16).