Track and field teams compete against Division I schools in Jet’s Pizza Invitational

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The SVSU men’s and women’s track teams hoped to follow up last weekend’s impressive performance with a strong showing Friday and Saturday at the Jet’s Pizza Invitational.

Hosted by Saginaw Valley, the Jet’s Pizza invitational had schools such as Davenport, Michigan, Central Michigan, Windsor, Lake Superior State, and more showing off their talent.

Although the chance of being outperformed is increased against large Division I programs like the University of Michigan, Coach Rod Cowan only sees benefits.

“It certainly pays dividends,” he said. “It forces us to also compete at a high level or get embarrassed on our own track.”

He also brought up the fact that his athletes are trained to not let any of those athletes “push them around.”

The meet, which was not scored on a team basis, only individual, was split between two days, started Friday and primarily consisted of prelims but had athletes like Sam Black competing in the heptathlon.

He finished fifth in the 60-meter dash and sixth in long jump. Black also competed in shot put, finishing fourth. His strongest performance was in the high jump, as he tied for first with a jump of 1.92 meters.

In the long jump, Jullane Walker took fourth place with a final jump of 6.80 meters. Ben Morrow was able to put up another strong showing with a sixth-place finish in the weight throw with a chuck of 15.70 meters.

To finish out the first day, Jacob Kulhanek finished in third place in the pole vault, right behind two University of Michigan athletes, followed by Sebastian Behme and Chase Field in fifth and sixth.

The second day held more top marks for the Cardinals and many more big time events. Tristan Fackelman paced his way to first place in the 5,000-meter run, while McKenzie Smoyer finished 21st in the one-mile run, an event with 34 competitors.

The men’s long distance has been the most consistent group on the team when it comes high-placed finishes.

“They’re doing a solid job, and they’re still young, which is the encouraging part,” Cowan said “If the improvement continues, they should be right in the thick of things come selection time.”

Rob Roest led the way in the men’s one-mile run with a seventh place finish out of 50 total runners. Ce’Aira Richardson had yet another outstanding performance in the 500-meter dash with a second-place finish, less than a second out of first place, which was taken by a University of Michigan runner.

In the men’s 400-meter dash Dalton Hollandsworth and Carter Eckhardt led the way for SVSU with a sixth and seventh-place finish. Dominique Smith continued her consistent success in the 60-meter dash by placing third with a time of 7.98 seconds. Travon Phillips ran his way into first place in his 60-meter dash with a final time of 6.98 seconds.

Morgan Fuerst and Alicia Tomlin had respectable finishes in the 800-meter run as well, finishing in seventh and eighth. Freshman Nick Plude led the men’s side in the event with a seventh-place finish and a time of 1:57.16.

In the men’s 200-meter dash, Phillips finished fourth, while teammate Juan Bowers followed him in fifth-place. Allsion Dorr continued to lead her middle-distance squad with a sixth-place finish in the 3,000-meter run at a 10:18 mark.

Opposite, Tom Goforth and Eddie Komph took second and fourth place in their 3000-meter run.

SVSU again excelled in the 4×400-meter relay, finishing runner up to Oakland University. Senior Anna Fochesato finished fourth in the high jump at 1.58 meters and second in the triple jump at 11 meters.

Two day meets like the Jet’s Pizza Invitational do have benefits to them, Cowan said.

“We run this meet over two days to simulate our conference meet,” Cowan said.

What these multiday meets do as well is give coaches an idea to where the team may stand come conference championship time. This gives them time to make necessary adjustments for the highest possible finish.

Sprinting has also been a strong suite for the men this year. Young runners such as sophomore Matt Massey have a bright future on the Cardinal squad and are excited with their team’s performance.

“I think our team did pretty good,” Massey said.

The young sprinter also showed no fear of the powerhouse schools they competed against, as well.

“We did really well, it makes it really competitive,” Massey said.

Massey is only one of many developing athletes on the team. The future looks bright for Cowan’s young squad as they continue their climb in the national ranks as they compete against Northwood next week and Grand Valley the following weekend.

Along with current success, Massey also has high hopes for his future as a Cardinal.

“I want to be on top, the way I run and the way I compete,” Massey said. “I feel as though I can be on top. But I have to get there first.”