LEXINGTON, Va. - On Friday and Saturday, the 10th and 11th of March, the Bluffton University men’s and women’s teams opened their outdoor campaign at the Washington & Lee Track & Field Carnival with a bang, bringing home two event champions, a host of qualifiers for upcoming championship meets, as well as a number of personal-record performances.

Freshman Stanley Williams (Sterling Heights, Mich./Chippewa Valley) started the team off on a positive note Friday by winning the men’s long jump competition in a field of 30 with a leap of 22’ 10.50” (6.97 meters). In the throws events, senior DiVaunta Spearman (Sandusky/Willard) had a big PR performance in men’s hammer with a toss of 147’ 5.50” (44.94 meters) to take 3rd in the field of 28.

Both men are now qualified for the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference championship as well as the All-Ohio championship.

“Friday night under the lights” for the middle distance and distance runners brought good fortune as well as. Sophomore Devony Miller (Findlay/Liberty-Benton) set the standard for the evening by speeding off in the 1,500 meter event to an HCAC and All-Ohio qualifying time. A pair of freshmen, Alexis Cash (Gaines, MI/Lake Fenton) and Dakota Frost (Edgerton/Hicksville), followed her with improved times from the indoor campaign at 5,000 meters which qualified them for both championships as well. Later in the evening, junior Kris Lyons (Vickery/Margaretta) proved his mettle in the mighty 25-lap 10,000 meter race where he placed 6th, running a new PR and accomplishing the double qualifier as well. Senior Jack Fisher (Norwalk/St. Paul) and sophomore Jennie Matteson (Guysville/Alexander) also ran double-qualifying races in the 5,000 and 10,000 respectively.

Day 2 of the meet saw the remainder of the field events and the non-distance races as well as additional quality performances from the Beavers. Miller returned to the track with a PR time over 800 meters but narrowly missed qualifying times. Sophomore Keturah Warlick (East Point, Mich./Clintondale), showing marked improvement from last year’s opener, sped to two quick qualifying times in the 100 and 200, 12.92 and 26.72 seconds, respectively, which saw her place 4th and 3rd in large fields for both events. Williams took the track for the men’s 200 meters and sped away to a PR 22.79 second finish, good for 6th overall, to put his name in the ranks of qualifiers as well.

Junior Kyle Knezovich (Utica) did not disappoint, winning the men’s pole vault competition with a double-qualifier clearance, interrupting his vaulting to take to the track in the 400 meter intermediate hurdles where he also qualified for both championships! Also vaulting to qualifying marks were juniors Willow Thompson (Arlington) and Brock Morris (Burbank/Norwayne). Finally, junior Erick Benge (Monrovia, Ind./Monrovia) took up his javelin and produced a qualifying toss for the HCAC championship after having had a PR hammer performance on Friday.

“While there were no school records broken, which is always a goal, we saw an unprecedented number of HCAC and All-Ohio qualifications in a wide variety of events,” said Head Coach Karen Brandt. “To open the season with this volume of quality marks was a testament to our athletes’ dedication and our coaches’ guidance. This bodes well for the remainder of the season as we continue to develop and point toward the championship meets in April.”

The thinclads return to action Saturday at Cedarville University. Field events commence at 10:30 a.m. followed by track action at 11 a.m.