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Spartans qualify third athlete for national championship meet

Published: Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 2:10 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 2:20 a.m. CDT
Southwestern's Serena Yong competes in the weight throw at the Cornell Invite.
Southwestern's Theo Piniau pulls ahead to win the 400-meter dash in 51.79 seconds. Piniau also placed second in the 60-meter dash in 7 seconds, qualifying him for the indoor national championship meet in New York City.

MOUNT VERNON — The Southwestern Community College track team used its depth to score top-five finishes in a wide variety of events here Saturday at the Cornell Invitational.

The Spartans increased their roster to 36 athletes this season.

“Our athletes have a wide range of abilities, allowing us to be competitive in open races as well as have strong showings in the relays and field events,” said head coach Bill Huntington.

Rhecie Lee had a busy day competing in four events. Lee placed third in the long jump and high jump, fourth in the 60-meter dash and fifth in the 200-meter dash.

For the men, Theo Piniau became the third Spartan this season to qualify for the indoor national championship meet in New York City, placing second in the 60-meter dash in 7 seconds.

He later found another gear and pulled away for the victory in the 400-meter dash.

“Getting another guy to nationals is a huge step for our program,” Huntington said. “Each Spartan jersey we have on the track competing in New York is another chance for national recognition for our program.”

Teammate John Rivan — who qualified for nationals the week before at the Dordt Invite — placed 3rd in the 60-meter dash.

Joe Bierl improved his 800-meter time by five seconds, finishing third overall in 2:05.63.

Hurdlers Jackson Shantz and Korey Beaman made the finals in the 60-meter high hurdles, crossing the line in third and fifth respectively.

In the relays, the 4x200 and 4x400 placed second and third.

“We moved some guys around and gave athletes more events to help improve our fitness and score in the team competition,” Huntington said. “Everything we are working on is geared toward a peak performance at our regional meet in March.”

The track team returns to Cornell again Saturday. The race schedule has been altered to feature more races, including a distance medley relay.

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