Track and Field: Best in the East, five Pitt athletes qualify for Nationals


Twelve members of the men’s and women’s track and field teams traveled to Jacksonville, Fla. to compete in the Division I Outdoor East Regional Championships. 

East Regionals occurred over the weekend and consisted of the preliminary, first round and quarterfinal round for each individual event. Having a qualifying time in the quarterfinal round secures the athlete a trip to the NCAA National Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., held this year from June 11 to June 14. 

Five Panthers qualified for the championships this year.

Representing the women’s team in Florida were sophomore sprinter Evann Thompson, senior jumper Ashley Corum and junior throwers Haley Springman and Taylor Slaney. 

Out of the four, Thompson qualified to compete at Nationals. On the first day of competition, running the 400-meter hurdles, Thompson collected a personal and school record of 57.41 seconds. The original record, 57.45 seconds, was set during the same meet by Julianna Reed in 2006. Thompson is seeded 10th for next week.

“I just kept pushing through the whole entire race,” Thompson said.

The sophomore took notice of her close positioning with the top-seeded runners during the last straightaway.

“I’m right in this. It’s either now or never,” Thompson said of her thought process during the final push.

Representing the men’s team were freshman thrower Ethan Shalaway and sprinter Desmond Palmer, sophomore sprinter Dustin Fuller, jumper Luke Gallaher and thrower Andrew Wells and senior sprinters Brycen Spratling, Micah Murray and Carvin Nkanata. 

In the field, Shalaway impressed at the javelin throw. The freshman’s 64.72-meter toss landed him in the fourth place position in his flight. At the end of the competition, he placed 15th, just missing inclusion in the top 12 javelin throwers who will compete at Nationals. 

Palmer, the only other freshman competing for Pitt during the meet, secured his place to compete at Nationals. Palmer first qualified running the 400-meter high hurdles, running a personal best time of 50.73 seconds. He’s seeded 14th for Nationals.

“Just being here, and making it to Nationals,” Palmer said, “It feels great.”

The freshman will also compete in the men’s 4X400-meter relay at Nationals. Palmer and the senior sprinters ran an impressive time of 3:03.64 — only 0.2 seconds off their season-best record set earlier this year at the Penn Relays. They are seeded fifth for Eugene. 

Also qualifying to compete in two events at Nationals were Nkanata and Spratling. Apart from the 4X400, Nkanata will compete in the 200-meter dash and his qualifying time of 20.61 seconds places him second overall for the Eastern Region. He’ll run from the No. 20 position out west. 

Spratling ran the 400-meter dash in 45.09 seconds, achieving his primary goal.

“Win everything,” Spratling said. “Win my heat, win the entire meet.”

His time placed Spratling in first place and provided him an edge as he heads to Eugene. The second place finisher, Vernon Norwood from Louisiana State University, ran almost a full tenth of a second behind Spratling. Spratling is the first seed at Nationals. 

Going into the final meet of his college career, Spratling wants to continue to decrease his time stating that he “still thinks he can go faster.” 

Spratling and his teammates will travel to Eugene next week.