The SHSU track team competed this past weekend in their last big meet before the Southland Conference Tournament, and qualified three more athletes to the NCAA Regional meet.
The Bearkats traveled to Austin to compete in the Texas Invitational against teams including Florida, Texas A&M, Baylor, Houston, Florida State and Texas.
The meet also had several post-collegiate athletes competing independently in preparation for the Olympics.
“Facing this kind of competition will only make us better and we’ve been right there with these people for the past month or so, and that’s a very positive sign,” said head track coach Greg Hinze.
Alishia Fowler, a high jumper who also plays on the SHSU volleyball team, competed in her first outdoor meet of the season and finished second to multiple-time Olympian and American record holder Amy Acuff.
Acuff won the event at 5-10.75 while Fowler finished second at 5-8.75. Fowler beat Texas A& M’s All-American, Robyn Burkhardt in the event on fewer misses. The finish was enough to earn an NCAA Regional qualifying mark.
“We just now get (Fowler) back from spring volleyball, with three meets to go in the season, and she jumps out of her mind,” Hinze said. “To get second behind an Olympian, break a school record and qualify for the NCAA Regional is an outstanding individual accomplishment.”
Also earning NCAA Regional qualifying marks were Adrian Ray, Raul Villarreal and Randy Flach. Ray, who has already qualified in 110-meter hurdles, finished ninth in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 52.50.
Raul Villarreal, who has been running the steeplechase only for a couple of meets, earned a qualifying mark and broke a school record, finishing second. Randy Flach improved his pole vault mark, putting it at 16-6.75.
“Raul running well in the steeple is a positive development,” Hinze said.
“He’s been a team player this season, sacrificing his own personal goals for that of the team in some meets, and we were kind of putting all of our eggs in one basket with this steeple race and he got the job done by breaking his own school record and qualifying for the NCAA Regional,” Hinze said.
Also placing big this week were the women’s 4 x 100-meter and 4 x 400-meter relays, finishing at second and third place. Joe Amburn finished second in the 1,500-meter run, and Isai Llanes finished second as well in the 5,000-meter.
The team has one more meet to go before the SLC meet, and the team has begun to prepare.
“We’re going to start backing off of them training wise, try to heal up some bumps and bruises, and get ready for the three-day war,” Hinze said.
The team will compete in the Texas A& M Twilight Meet Thursday night.