DENTON – Tarleton’s up-and-comers and underclassmen largely had the spotlight to themselves on Saturday at the North Texas Classic.
They made the most of it, too.
The Texans racked up 25 season personal records at their fifth meet of their first-ever Division I outdoor season. Four athletes earned medals and Tarleton registered 10 top-five finishes between individual events and relays.
The performance illustrated Tarleton’s developing depth across the event spectrum. The meet field featured some of the South Central region’s premier track and field programs. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State traveled athletes while fellow Division I foes Abilene Christian, UTA and SMU sent their full teams to Denton.
Sophomore Oscar Rodriguez earned his second silver medal in the discus in as many Saturday’s and was the Texans’ top overall finisher. The Del Rio, Texas native threw 162′ 8″ to take second place. Rodriguez notched a personal record of 171′ 8″ on Apr. 3 at the UTA Invitational to move within less than three feet of the program’s outdoor school record in the discus. He also claimed sixth place honors in the hammer throw with a personal record of 161′ 8″.
Tarleton’s jumpers also tallied a trio of third place finishes. Erikmycal Powell kicked off the meet with a leap of 22′ 2.25″ in the long jump to earn a bronze medal. The performance was the highest individual finish this season for Powell. who transferred to Tarleton from Hannover College (IN).
Joining Powell on the podium were Maxon Newell and Gentrye Munden in the high jump. Newell, a freshman, cleared 6′ 2.75″ to set a personal record and move to seventh on the WAC outdoor performance list. Munden’s jump of 5′ 5″ earned her third-place honors as well. The junior became the first athlete in Tarleton track and field history to win an individual event when she leapt 5′ 6″ at UTA. Munden is second in the WAC in the high jump.
The Texans’ distance crew delivered its best collective effort of the spring, turning in a quartet of top-five finishes and five season personal records. Kevin Baez clocked in at 3:56.11 to place fourth in the 1,500m while Jenna Brazeal crossed the finish line in 4:50.15 to take fifth in the women’s race. Imani Williams was not far behind Brazeal, as she improved her season time in the 1,500m by eight seconds to finish sixth at 4:50.66. Lucas Kurtz and Kaleigh Ellis then each nabbed fourth place finishes in the 5,000m with respective times and personal records of 16:27.33 and 20:06.15.
Tarleton closed the meet with a top-five performance in the men’s 4x400m relay. Skyler Sandusky, Dahmir Pearson, Brady Sisneroz and Joey Ortiz-Martinez teamed up to post a time of 3:28.88 and finish fourth in their first time competing together.
Pearson, Sisneroz and Ortiz-Martinez all set personal records and respectively finished fifth-through-seventh in the 400m hurdles. Pearson and Sisneroz finished the race in 55.44 and 55.75 to move to fifth and eighth in the event on the WAC outdoor performance list. Ortiz-Martinez improved his personal record by more than a second with a time of 56.40.
Ashlynn Cash ran solo for Tarleton in the women’s 400m hurdles and finished sixth in 1:09.07.
The Texans’ most noteworthy performance in the hurdles arguably came from Sullivan Sanders. A native of Killeen, Sanders made his 2021 debut in the 110m hurdles and promptly posted the WAC’s third-fastest time this season at 14.95 seconds to take seventh in the competition.
Jamel Anderson and Ethan Hood placed ninth and 10tth in the 100m dash with times of 10.95 and 11.00. Anderson, a senior, notched a season personal record while the freshman Hood owns Tarleton’s top season time in the event at 10.83.
Sophomores Bailey Smotek and Alessa King highlighted a list of nine athletes who raced in the 400m for Tarleton. Smotek cracked the top-10 with a personal record of 50.40 while King came in at 58.79 to lead a group of five women’s athletes who competed in the event.
Fellow sophomores Nakia Dunn and Chloe Goodman added to their strong starts to the 2021 campaign. Dunn was sixth in the triple jump with a leap of 38′ 6.25″ and now ranks third in the WAC in the event. She also finished ninth in the long jump at 17′ 6″. Goodman, from Stephenville, took seventh place in the long jump with a personal record of 17′ 8.75″.
Marshae Davis rounded out the field events for Tarleton by taking eighth place in the shot put with a toss of 38′ 9″.
Tarleton now has an opportunity to see how its elite athletes stack up against the nation’s best. Up next for Tarleton is a trip to Baylor on Apr. 16-17 for the Michael Johnson Invitational. The Texans will then compete in front of Tarleton State University as a whole, when the program hosts the Joe Gillispie Invitational on Apr. 22.