The Butler track and field team had a total of nine first-place finishes and added to the list of national indoor meet qualifiers over the weekend. The Grizzlies sent athletes to compete in the two-day Missouri Southern State Lion Invitational in Joplin, Mo., and the Johnson County Night Relays on Friday in Overland Park.
Butler added three new individuals – freshman Xavier Atkins (men's 60m dash), Madison McLaughlin (women's pole vault) and sophomore Janie Salinas (women's 3,000 meter run) – to the national qualifying list, bringing its team total to 26. The Grizzlies also qualified in five new events, giving the squad a total of 23 events qualified for the NJCAA National Indoor Meet, which begins March 4 in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Highlighting the weekend was sophomore vaulter Rachael Buzanowski, who broke her own school record in the women's pole vault by clearing 3.51 meters (11 feet, 6 ¼ inches) to win the event at Johnson County. The 3.51m clearance is the second-best vault among NJCAA women this year. Buzanowski's previous best came outdoors last year at the NJCAA National Meet in Albuquerque, N.M., when she vaulted 3.50 meters. It also marked Buzanowski's first top finish of the 2016 season, as she won a combined three times during last year.
Also at the Cavalier Night Relays, Atkins ran the second-best time in school history in the men's 60-meter dash. Atkins won the event with a time of 6.68 seconds, which is currently third-best among NJCAA men. The school record (6.67 seconds) is held by Ivory Williams, set in 2005.
At Missouri Southern State, freshman jumper Valeriya Kostiuk regained the top NJCAA ranking in the women's high jump, clearing 1.75 meters (5 feet, 8 ¾ inches). Kostiuk took first with the clearance, giving her three first-place finishes on the season. Freshman James Hambrick also had a personal-best in the men's long jump with a first-place jump of 7.34 meters (24 feet, 1 inch), which currently ranks him fourth in the NJCAA.
Other notable performances this weekend in Joplin:
– Sophomore Mohammed Abubakar finished second in the men's triple jump with a national qualifying mark of 15.07, which ranks fourth in the NJCAA. The Ghana sophomore has now qualified for nationals in two events, as he currently owns the top mark among NJCAA men in the long jump.
– Poole won the men's 600-yard run with a time of 1:13.54, qualifying him for the men's 600-meter run after conversion (1:22.37). He also placed second in the men's 60-meter dash at 6.89 seconds, narrowly missing out on qualifying.
– Freshman Sheila Samoei and Janie Salinas qualified for nationals in the women's 1-mile and 3,000-meter run, respectively. Samoei placed 13th with a 5:32.52 time in the mile, while Salinas was 13th in the 3,000 with a time of 11:25.84.
– Freshman Elijah Smith won the men's 60-meter hurdles (8.41 seconds) by edging out Allen County's Keshon McFadden (8.43). Smith's time was also a personal-best on the season.
- Freshman Trevions Rouchon placed second overall in the men's 400-meter dash with a time of 50.03 seconds.
Notable performances at Johnson County:
– In addition to Buzanowski's school-record vault, freshman teammate Madison McLaughlin cleared 2.80 meters to qualify for nationals. McLaughlin's height was good for second place behind Buzanowski. Butler now has three women vaulters – Buzanowski, McLaughlin and Danae Bina – qualified for the national meet.
– Freshman Colin Reichenberger won the men's 60 meter hurdles in photo-finish fashion, setting a personal-best time of 8.413 seconds. Reichenberger edged out Barton's Kevin Turner (8.418) to win the event.
– The Grizzlies had three other first-place finishes at the Night Relays. Sophomore sprinter Ona Giles won the women's 200-meter dash (26.10 seconds), while freshman Akeem Sirleaf was first in the men's 200 (22.65). Freshman Charlie Kellogg also placed first in the men's triple jump (12.31 meters).
Butler will next be in action this Friday at the Juco Challenge at Wichita State University, competing against fellow KJCCC schools Cowley and Hutchinson. Field events begin at 10 a.m., with running events to start at 12:30 p.m.
The meet will be the final tune-up for the Grizzlies before the Region VI Indoor Championships, which begin on Friday, Feb. 19 at Pittsburg State University.