For the McMurry men to win their second outdoor national title in three years, Thursday could prove to be a very crucial day. While much of McMurry’s participation today will be in the preliminary rounds of the 4X100 and 4X400-meter relays as well as the 400-meter hurdles and 200-meter dash preliminaries, six athletes have a chance to begin scoring points today in the pole vault and the long jump.
The tandem of Stephen Toler, Cory Altenburg, Thomas Dimitri and Brock Steinbock all qualified for the pole vault. If all four, or even three of the four McMurry athletes could place in the top eight, not only would they receive all-America status, but they would score team points for McMurry. The event begins at 5 p.m. EST.
Based upon each of the athletes’ top jumps this season, two of the four athletes (Toler and Altenburg) are projected to finish in the top eight while Dimitri is on the bubble at ninth and Steinbock ranks 13th. Toler had the second-best jump in the nation at the last-chance meet in Abilene May 20 with a jump of 17-00.75 while Altenberg has the fourth-best jump this season when he jumped 16-08.00 April 1. McMurry could use Toler and Altenberg staying put or moving up a spot, and then the senior Dimitri will look to break into the top ten along with the freshman Steinbock.
In addition, two McMurry men will participate in the long jump (6 p.m. EST) with the top two marks in the nation coming in. If Stryker Pena and Gavan Bass can hold these top positions, it would mean key points for McMurry heading into the final two days.
On the women’s side, both competitors will be done after today. Holly Rollins competes in the pole vault and Breana Anderson-Burton competes in the long jump.
Rollins will actually be the first McMurry athlete we see in action as she attempts to complete her come back after two knee surgeries and return as national champion. The women’s pole vault begins at 1 p.m. and Rollins, the 2008 outdoor champion, enters as the No. 5 seed with a season’s best jump of 12-09.00. She jumped 12-10.25 as a freshman in 2008 to win the title, so she is just behind the pace of her career best.
Anderson-Burton’s longest mark of the season in the long jump is 18-09.75 and she ranks 15th out of 19 entrants headed into the national meet. She’ll have her work cut out if she wants to break in the top eight to earn her fourth career all-America award between indoor and outdoor track. The women’s long jump begins at 3 p.m. EST.
The men’s 4X100-meter relay preliminaries begin at 4 p.m. EST, the men’s 400-meter hurdle preliminaries begin at 5:20 p.m. EST, the men’s 200-meter dash preliminaries begin at 6:15 p.m. EST and the 4X400-meter relay preliminaries begin at 7:25 p.m.
Coach Holmes and I will head to the meet around Noon and will try to catch up with Rollins and the rest of the McMurry track team.
Stay tuned …