Brycen Spratling hasn’t run the 500-meter dash often in his career, but maybe he should… Brycen Spratling hasn’t run the 500-meter dash often in his career, but maybe he should start.
Spratling not only set the American collegiate record, but also earned the current fastest time in the world in the 500-meter dash as the Pitt men’s track and field team finished third out of 13 teams at the NCAA Big East Indoor Track and Field Championships last week.
Spratling — named the Most Outstanding Male Athlete of the meet — dropped a blazing 1:00.63 time in the 500-meter dash while setting a school record in the 200-meter dash with a time of 21.16. The sophomore typically runs the 200-meter and the 400-meter.
“I came in pretty set on doing well in the 200 and felt I had a good chance to win,” Spratling said. “I hadn’t ran the 500 too much in my career, but I just tried to approach it like any other race.”
Pitt head coach Alonzo Webb called Spratling’s win “the performance of a lifetime” in a news release on Pitt’s website.
“What he did was incredible,” Webb said.
Junior hurdler Tashaun Hill said the performance had a “positive vibe with the team.”
“We came out with a sense of unity, and it showed in the way we competed,” Hill said.
Spratling’s record-setting weekend marked just one of his many impressive performances this season. At the USA Indoor National Championships this weekend, he placed fourth in the 400-meter dash, setting a new school record with a time of 46.16 seconds.
Spratling represented Pitt on a stage that included a number of other college and professional stars and called the weekend a learning experience.
“It was different,” he said. “Those guys carry themselves differently. The biggest thing I can take away from that weekend was how guys at the next level carry themselves and prepare for their races.”
A transfer from Eastern Michigan, Spratling holds school records in the 200-meter, 400-meter and 500-meter dashes,
“I’ve just been able to build confidence over the course of the season,” Spratling said. “There was a point when I wasn’t running as well as I should have been, but my teammates maintained confidence in me and encouraged me to compete better.”
With Spratling leading the way, a number of other Pitt men turned in impressive finishes.
Senior Jermaine Lowery also advanced to the 500-meter final and joined sophomore Micah Murray in the 200-meter final as well.
Murray went on to earn All-Big East honors in the 400-meter dash, finishing second with a time of 47.10. Several other Panthers earned All-Big East honors, including senior Dontave Cowsette (second place, 800 meter), freshman Joshua Thompson (second place, 60-meter hurdles), senior Folarin Ijelu (second place, triple jump) and the 4-by-400 meter relay team (third place).
“Everyone stepped up and did well in their events,” Spratling said. “That’s why we were able to place so high.”
The women’s team finished eighth out of 15 teams at the Big East Indoor Championship.
Several members of the women’s team achieved personal records in their respective events, and two Panthers earned All-Big East Honors: senior Cambrya Jones (first place, 200 meter; second place, 60 meter) and freshman Taylor Ellis-Watson (first place, 400 meter). Junior Jonnique Lawrence finished fourth in the 400 meter, while classmate Elizabeth Kline came in fourth in the pentathlon.
“This was one of the best overall performances that we’ve had in quite a while, and I was very impressed with our team’s effort,” Webb said in a release on Pitt’s website.
There are just two meets remainng in the indoor season, one of which includes the 2012 NCAA Indoor Championships, scheduled for March 9th. Spratling — as well as the other Panthers who qualified for the meet — will attempt to close the indoor season strong. The outdoor season begins at the end of March.
Junior Jonnique Lawrence said the women’s team will try to place higher in the Big East Outdoor Championships.
“If we can score in more events, we’ll give ourselves a better chance to place in the top three,” Lawrence said. “We definitely have some positives to take from the indoor season moving forward.”
The men’s team also has high expectations for the outdoor season.
“If we don’t win outdoor,” Spratling said. “I think it will be a disappointment. We have a good opportunity, and we definitely have what it takes.”