The Harding men’s and women’s track teams competed in their first outdoor meet of the year on March 18 and 19 at the Rhodes Invitational in Memphis, Tennessee. Five athletes secured 1st place finishes between the two teams, including a school-record 184 foot, 9 inch discus throw by junior Josh Syrotchen, which automatically qualified him for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in May.
Syrotchen said that since he is right-handed, the strong winds coming from his left on the day of the meet gave him a disadvantage. Because of the tricky conditions, he was surprised to qualify in the first meet of the year.
“I went in knowing that I’ve been working pretty hard and that I was going to get a good result, but I wasn’t expecting the (record),” Syrotchen said. “In our workouts we had really just been trying to build a base, so it was nice to throw better than I expected with the weather the way it was.”
Also victorious at the meet was senior Donatella Luckett, who won the 100 meters in 10.75 seconds. Luckett also placed 5th in the 200 meters.
According to Luckett, the weekend’s results serve as a good starting point for the team as they continue to improve with the Great American Conference (GAC) meet coming up in May.
“(The meet) was a great benchmark for everyone, and it was the first one, so we all know where we stand now,” Luckett said. “I definitely feel like I have a lot more work to do — I need more endurance — so knowing where I am, I can work harder from there.”
Rounding out the winners from the men’s team was junior Trey Adkison, who earned his fifth career victory in the pole vault. For the women’s team, junior Sylvie Mueller took home the 3,000-meter steeplechase and seniors Kelsey Taylor, Tammy Kim, Dallas Bailey and sophomore Madison Drennan won the 4×800 relay.
Luckett said seeing the success of his teammates in other events encourages him to compete even harder.
“When you see somebody else do (good) work, you want to do the same,” Luckett said. “Everybody builds off everybody, so if we start off in long distance and they kill it, it just builds from there.”
Head coach Steve Guymon said he was impressed by what he saw, considering it was the teams’ first meet of the season. He said there are improvements to be made but that he feels confident going forward.
“I saw a lot of really great things, but there are definitely things we need to improve on,” Guymon said. “The coaches voted the men and the women to win the conference, and we believe we can. There are some tough teams out there, but we feel we can compete with the best.”
The men’s and women’s teams will both compete next at the Harding Invitational in a dual meet with Southern Arkansas University on April 2.