Track and Field: Spratling breaks record, leads Panthers at Sea Ray Relays

By Kelly Flanigan

Pitt sophomore sprinter Brycen Spratling did something no Panther had ever done before this… Pitt sophomore sprinter Brycen Spratling did something no Panther had ever done before this weekend.

Spratling broke the school record for the 400-meter dash with a time of 46.03 seconds in the Sea Ray Showcase held at the Tom Black Track and LaPorte Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn.

“[Brycen] elevates our team’s profile as far as people understanding what track and field is all about,” said Pitt head coach Alonzo Webb. “He has brought a lot of recognition to the program in a short amount of time.”

Spratling is still in his first year, competing for Pitt after transferring from Central Michigan.

His new time edged former Pitt track athlete Karl Farmer’s time of 46.34 seconds in 1975. This new record was also enough to earn him first place in the showcase and the Tony Wilson Award for the meet’s most outstanding male track athlete.

“That was Brycen’s first open 400 of the year. Normally, you don’t break your own best performance by that much, especially in the first event of the year. It’s good to see, it gave him a lot of confidence,” said Coach Webb.

Sophomore Micah Murray finished right behind his teammate with a time of 47.26 seconds.

Spratling says he always asks the coaches what the standing records for his events are as motivation.

“I just go out there, and it gives me something to work towards,” he said. “I have been working a lot harder this year than I ever have, and it has all paid off. I’ve just been really fortunate to break records here at Pitt.”

On the Friday of the Sea Ray Relays, Spratling finished third in the 200-meter dash with a time of 21.21 seconds. Murray and freshman Josh Mindlin turned in top-15 finishes as well with times of 21.59 and 21.83 seconds, respectively.

The Panthers also received continued production from their youth.

Freshman Joshua Thompson finished sixth in the 110-meter hurdles with a personal best time of 14.18 seconds. He also finished in the top-10 of the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.78 seconds. In addition, sophomore Reginald Steele IV finished right behind Thompson with a time of 10.85 seconds. Steele also finished fifth in the long jump competition with a distance of 7.28 meters,

Seniors Dan Kwiatkowski and Kurt Barnhart finished fourth and seventh, respectively, in the open discus competition and the invitational discus throw with distances of 42.39 meters and 47.26 meters. Kwiatkowski hit the Big East qualifying mark of 15.98 meters in the shot put as well.

“I definitely think everyone went out there and gave their all in the showcase of the meet,” Spratling said. “I definitely think everyone showed up and did what they had to do to be successful.”

On Saturday, the Sea Ray Relays featured the meet’s showcase event, which included only the top heats in nine varying events. Pitt had two relay teams and seven athletes competing as individuals in the showcase. Several of the Panthers’ times met Big East qualifications.

Spratling and Murray were two of seven Panthers competing as individuals on Saturday. In addition, senior Jermaine Lowery placed first in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 50.86 seconds.

Pitt’s 1,600-meter and 400-meter relay team finished first and third, respectively, in the showcase.

Panthers Dontave Cowsette and Sam Negley were Big East qualifiers in the 800-meter event with times of 1:50:96 and 1:53:10, respectively.

Pitt senior Cambrya Jones led the way for the women’s team as she swept her 200-meter dash competition with a mark of 23.31 seconds at the showcase. Junior Jonnique Lawrence finished second in the 400-meter showcase.

Jones and Lawrence were also a part of the women’s 400-meter relay team that finished second with a time of 45.07 seconds and included teammates Jordan Hoyt and Ashley Woodford.

“This year we’ve been trusting Coach [Webb] more and knowing we’re going to get the best outcome following what he says and not asking questions,” Lawrence said.

The women had a productive day qualifying for Big East top marks. Freshmen Brooke Shasteen and Casey Meier’s respective javelin distances of 38.21 and 40.52 meters earned them eighth and fifth place finishes.

Capitalizing on the team’s youth, freshman Brittany Lightfoot threw shot put 13.76 meters and also qualified for the Big East competition.

Next up for the Panthers this weekend will be the Legacy Track Meet in Baltimore, Md. Penn Relays, Big East Championships and NCAA Regionals will follow.

“We expect to get a little bit better in every meet we go to, and that’s been the theme all year,” said Coach Webb. “The goal is to have somewhere between 12 and 15 kids qualify for the national championship.”

Lawrence said she is looking forward to the meet this weekend.

“We want to win this meet like we did last year,” she said. “We have more athletes this year. We want to go out there and have fun, and the performances will take care of themselves.”

Spratling has several goals for the remainder of the season.

“I would like to win the Big East,” he said. “It’s a good way to send out our seniors that have been holding the team together. After that I hope to have a good showing at regionals and nationals.”

However, the season does not end at nationals for Spratling.

“After nationals I’m hoping to qualify for Olympic trials and see where that takes me,” Spratling said.

The U.S. Olympic team trials begin June 22.