Track and field: Panthers compete over weekend

By Torie Wytiaz

The track and field season can seem long in comparison with other sports — and it is…. The track and field season can seem long in comparison with other sports — and it is. Including both the indoor and outoor seasons, track and field athletes are involved in competition from early December to early June, not to mention offseason practices in the fall.

As a result, this past weekend’s Mason Spring Invitational in Fairfax, Va., and the Sun Angel Classic  in Tempe, Az., didn’t boast high attendance from Pitt athletes. Head coach Alonzo Webb saw the weekend as a chance to give some team members a rest.

“The track season is long and exhausting, and since we have no home meets, it involves traveling every weekend,” Webb said. “Occasionally we try to schedule a break for some athletes around this time of year so they can tend to any injuries and get caught up on academic work.”

Despite only sending a few athletes, Webb was excited with some of the performances of the weekend, including the first-place finish of the women’s 4×100-meter relay team.

“The women’s 4×100 relay was quite impressive at the Mason Invitational,” Webb said. “They ran a great race, and this is the first time that we have put together this team.”

The combination of Ashley Woodford, Cambrya Jones, Da’Lynn Mills and Lanesha Pugh finished with a time of 45.12 seconds — more than two seconds ahead of the second place team.

Jones, a sophomore sprinter, earned further praise from her coach for her performance in the 200-meter dash.

“Jones set a personal best in the Mason Invitational 200-meter dash with a time of 23.60 seconds,” Webb said. “For her to set the career-high is a big accomplishment.”

Many of those taking the weekend off were members of the men’s team, but some competitors did have success.

In the 110-meter hurdles, sophomore Tashaun Hill finished third in his section in the finals with a time of 14.57 seconds.

For Hill, the Mason Spring Invitational was a chance to build upon his past meets and the work he has put in since the indoor season.

“As an individual, I feel like I’ve corrected a lot of mistakes from the indoor season,” Hill said. “Despite negative factors like wind, I have been training hard and look forward to being at nationals this year.”

Many of the Pitt throwers spent the weekend at the Sun Angel Classic, including senior Kayla Comrie, who recorded a career-best in the discus competition.

The men’s throwers also competed in Arizona, with senior Garrett Larkin and junior Dan Kwiatkowski finishing eighth and 10th, respectively, in the shot put event.

Larkin said the warm weather and the long trip made the competetion difficult for the athletes in Arizona.

“Overall, we were pretty happy as a group,” he said. “We were able to overcome the conditions we were in and succeed, which I think says a lot about us.”

There were no team scores tallied at either of the meets.

While Webb is aware of the improvements that the team needs to make as a whole, he is confident that those changes will occur soon.

“We improve upon little things at each meet, and these were no different,” Webb said. “We are not quite at the point where everyone is at the level they need to be at the same time to put together a complete meet.”

Webb, who is in his ninth year of coaching at Pitt, traditionally looks to the upcoming April 22 Morgan State Legacy Meet for a standout performance.

“When we travel to Morgan State, I usually look for things to come together,” Webb said. “Prior to that, we have pieces of success but not a whole team success.”

Webb’s athletes agree with him in regard to piecing together a complete meet and for Hill, it has a lot to do with a united team focus.

“The biggest improvement I have seen in the team so far is in our attitudes,” Hill said. “We are all on the same page and have a common goal, which is to win the Big East.”

Both the women’s and men’s teams will look to continue toward that goal next weekend at the Bison Outdoor Classic in Lewisburg, Pa., and the Sea Ray Relays in Knoxville, Tenn.