Texans put on a show at Joe Gillespie Invitational, earn 14 first-place medals


STEPHENVILLE – Track and field returned to Tarleton Memorial Stadium in triumphant fashion on Thursday at the 2021 running of the Joe Gillespie Invitational. 

It marked Tarleton’s first time hosting a home track meet in five years. Dignitaries and special guests were on hand to observe the Texans compete on Oscar Frazier Memorial Track for the first time as a Division I program.  

University President Dr. James Hurley and athletic director Lonn Reisman stopped by as did Dr. Joe Gillespie, who served as Tarleton’s track and field coach from 1973-1982 and whom the meet is named after. The meet also featured an appearance from 2014 national champion Chase Rathke, who now serves as a cross country and track and field coach at UT Tyler. 

And on a day in which Tarleton honored its 16 graduating seniors, the Texans put on a show. Tarleton captured 14 first place finishes in individual events and relays and cracked the top-10 in all events athletes were entered in. 

Three of Tarleton’s individual victories belonged to senior Jasmine McQuirter. The two-time NCAA won the long jump at 19′ 3.25″ then transitioned to the track, where she anchored the Texans’ winning 4x100m relay team (48.13) and crossed the finish line first in the 100m dash with a personal record of 11.96. McQuirter, from Teague, Texas, now ranks second in the Western Athletic Conference in both the long jump and 100m dash. 

Fellow senior Anterius Brown joined McQuirter in earning multiple gold medals. Brown won the 400m dash in 47.79 seconds and ran the second leg of Tarleton’s 4x400m relay team, which took first in 3:15.48 and also featured Brandon McKissick, Zach Martinez and Bailey Smotek. 

The Texans collectively made headway across the conference in the women’s high jump. Gentrye Munden cleared 5′ 7.25″ to win the event, set a personal record and move to first on the WAC outdoor performance list. Heptathletes Emily Simon and Chandee Bachmeyer also notched personal records. Simon leapt 5′ 6″ to surpass her previous personal record of 5′ 3.25″ and jump to third in the WAC in the event. Bachmeyer improved her mark to 5′ 3″ and is now tied for sixth in the event amongst her conference peers.

Tarleton delivered a clean sweep in the women’s long jump. Sophomores Nakia Dunn and Chloe Goodman joined McQuirter on the podium, respectively placing second and third with marks of 17′ 8.75″ and 17′ 4″. Rounding out Tarleton’s competitors were Viviana Benitez (16′ 0.5″) and Kora Pennartz (15′ 4.5″). Dunn also took first in the triple jump at 37′ 9.75″ as did freshman Jaden Hall, who leapt 42′ 0.5″. Benitez set a personal record of 34′ 6.25″ to finish behind Dunn.

Alan Palmer and Hall combined to finish 2-3 in the men’s long jump. Palmer, who owns the indoor school record (24′ 0.75) in the event, finished with a mark 23′ 3.25″ and Hall jumped 20′ 9.5″. Palmer later claimed second place in the high jump, clearing 6′ 6″. 

The Texans enjoyed a host of personal records in throwing events.  

Jacob Bowers improved his career mark by 10 feet in the javelin with a toss of 144′ 5.” The throw gave Bowers first place accolades and slots him at 10th on the WAC performance list. Freshman Ben Presley was not far behind Bowers in his first time competing collegiately in the javelin, finishing with a mark of 143′ 8.” On the women’s side, Pennartz and fellow freshman Kenzie Adrian competed in the javelin for the first time and posted marks of 117′ 5 and 110′ 11″.

Four of Tarleton’s five competitors in the shot put earned personal records, highlighted by Marshae Davis’s second place finish at 41′ 4.25″. Bonnie Clifton was sixth with a throw of 37′ 5″ while Bachmeyer (32′ 10.5″) and Hailey Daniels-White 32′ 9.75″ also set new career bests.

Ethan Bratton and Elena Reagan then closed the show on field events in the discus and hammer throw. Bratton took third and set a personal record in the discus with a heave of 154′ 1″. The sophomore sits in ninth in the conference in the event. Reagan earned silver medals in both the discus (135′ 5″) and hammer throw (140′ 4″).

Tarleton again demonstrated its depth in the men’s 400m. McKissick and Martinez finished second and third behind Brown and set respective personal records of 48.21 and 48.81 seconds. Brown ranks second in the WAC in the 400m and McKissick and Martinez are now fourth and sixth. Sophomore Joseph Pezold improved his personal record by more than a second as well, as he clocked in at 51.98 to place ninth.  

Danielle Thomas was the top women’s 400m performer, claiming first place with a personal record of 1:00.34. 

The Texans had at least two athletes grace the podium in both the men’s and women’s 100m and 200m dashes. 

Senior Jamel Anderson won the 200m dash in 21.96 and recorded a personal record of 10.82 in the 100m dash to place second. Ethan Hood came in one spot behind Anderson in both races with times of 22.14 and 10.98 seconds. Sullivan Sanders snagged fourth place in the 100m by winning his heat and setting a personal record of 11.10. James Burroughs rounded out the collective effort on the men’s side by turning in his first sub-23.00 performance in the 200m with a time of 22.86.

Kailson Brinson and summer Croxton dramatized their place as a part of Tarleton’s future in its women’s sprints group. Brinson set personal records in the 100m dash (12.40, 4th) and 200m dash (25.72, 2nd). She then ran the third leg of Tarleton’s 4x400m relay team, which finished in 4:07.64 and featured Thomas, Munden and Lightsey Puryear. Croxton was third in both the 100m dash (12.380 and 200m dash (26.16). Senior Takehra Jones gave Tarleton four of the top-five finishers in the 100m dash, as she came across the finish line fifth in 12.66.

Simon and Dahmir Pearson respectively won the 100m and 400m hurdles and set personal records. Simon came in at 14.38 and now ranks eighth in the WAC. Pearson ran a 54.74 in the 400m hurdles to win and move to fourth on the conference performance list. Senior Cornelius Coleman gave Tarleton its third individual victory in hurdles, as he won the 110m hurdles in 14.49. Coleman is second in the WAC in the event and has posted sub-14.50 times in all three meets he’s competed in. Bachmeyer was Tarleton’s fastest finisher in the women’s 400m hurdles at 1:06.48 while senior Joey Ortiz-Martinez registered a personal record of 15.60 in the 110m hurdles.

Tarleton’s distance contingent illustrated its linear progression in the 1,500m with a trio of personal records to highlight the group’s afternoon. Jenna Brazeal set her third personal record in as many weeks with a time of 4:46.15 to place fourth while senior Johnnie Wilkinson boosted her career time to 5:06.82 to claim eighth place. Kevin Calvani then clocked in at 4:15.68 in his first time racing collegiately in the event. Both Imani Williams and Kevin Baez secured fifth place finishes with times of 4:54.70 and 4:01.55.

Wilkinson then earned her second personal record of the meet with a time of 2:27 in the 800m to finish sixth. Alessa King was Tarleton’s fastest finisher in the event at 2:23.12 and was second overall. Calvani was fifth in the men’s race at 2:00.89 and Jesus Mata delivered a three-second personal record (2:02.87) to claim seventh place.

The Texans had four athletes combined entered in the 3k steeplechase and 5k. Lucas Kurtz and Kaleigh Ellis made their steeple debuts and crossed the finish line in 11:02.92 and 12:28.06. Dominick Vastlik later finished second in the 5k at 15:27.01 while Riley McClure recorded a time of 16:42.95 in his Tarleton track and field debut.

Tarleton has two meets remaining on its inaugural Division I season. Up next is a trip to College Station on May 1 for Texas A&M’s Alumni Muster. The Texans then have two weeks to taper training and prepare for the WAC Championships, which run from May 13-15 in Edinburg. 

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