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Sooners Find Success at J.D. Martin Invite

NORMAN — The Oklahoma men’s and women’s track and field teams hosted the 18th annual J.D. Martin Invitational on Saturday at the Mosier Indoor Facility, competing against seven other teams from Oklahoma and northern Texas. 

Sooners on both the men’s and women’s teams compiled a hefty collection of personal-best marks and top-five finishes on their way to eight event victories. 

“The first thing I always look at is the energy in the room,” OU head coach Jim VanHootegem said. “I felt that each athlete was able to get his or her energy to the right levels, and I felt that the support the team had for each other was tremendous.

“Obviously, there were some great performances,” VanHootegem continued. “I thought we had some people have some performances today that were a breaking-out.”

OU found success immediately in the day’s first event, the women’s weight throw. Sophomore Lauren Jones tossed it 58-4.75 (17.80m) to earn second place, while redshirt junior Camille Burge secured fourth place with a toss of 57-9.75 (17.62m). When the men took the cage for their weight throw, freshman Bayley Campbell picked up a victory for the Sooners, throwing 61-3.5 (18.68m). Sophomore Edward Jeans took third with a 56-11.5 (17.36m). 

Entering the invitational, OU’s women triple jumpers ranked top nationally as an event group, while the men ranked second. The Sooners showed no signs of slowing down.

On the men’s side, all three Sooners recorded collegiate indoor personal-best marks on their way to a 2-3-4 finish. Junior Roman Mason leapt 51-7 (15.72m) for second place, while freshman Garry Williams jumped 50-4.15 (15.35m) for third. Senior Marcus Mitchell narrowly edged out his previous personal record by one-hundredth of a meter, tallying a 49-3.75 (15.03m). 

Oklahoma claimed another event victory when the women took their turn to triple jump. Sophomore Essence Thomas leapt 41-1.0 (12.52m) to clinch her third triple jump title of this indoor season. Freshman Allanah Lee (12.33m) and senior Najuana Strickland (11.82m) finished close behind Thomas at second and third, respectively. 

On the track, sophomore Joseph Sheffield (6.78) finished first among collegiate competitors in the men’s 60-meter dash, with freshman Zac Martin crossing the line just behind him at 6.89.

Later in the day, Martin claimed his first collegiate event victory, winning the 200-meter dash in 22.10. Junior Jackson Webb snagged third place at 22.19. 

OU competed 13 student-athletes in the women’s 60-meter dash, and they rounded out all top-five spots in the event. Sophomore Camri Austin’s indoor personal-best 7.53 was fast enough to be crowned first, and she was followed across the line by freshman Kennedy Blackmon (7.53), junior Amanda Van Buren (7.54), sophomore Dai’lyn Merriweather (7.60) and freshman Nicole Ezeoke (7.61). 

In the pole vault, the Sooners swept the top-three spots on the women’s side. For the second straight week, sophomore Colleen Clancy improved her personal record, notching up her 4.07-meter mark from last week to 13-5.25 (4.10m) this week. She remains at number six on OU’s all-time top-10 performance list. Redshirt junior Meagan Gray cleared the same height, finishing second by virtue of attempts. Senior Sydney King recorded a 13-1.5 (4.00m) to earn third place. OU’s lone pole vaulter in the men’s competition was junior Lucas Kelley, who claimed ninth place at 14-11 (4.55m). 

Throughout the day, young Sooners found opportunities to gain experience in a competition setting. 

Three freshmen competed in the 400-meter dashes, led by fifth place finishes by Zac Tucker in the men’s race and Kierstin Ferland on the women’s side. Tucker finished in 50.68, while Ferland clocked in at 1:04.13. Both competing in their first season for the Sooners, freshman Caleb Johnson (1:16.48) and redshirt freshman Tucker Desko (1:17.99) went 1-2 in the men’s 600-yard run. Similarly, freshman Jordyn Kaplan (2:20.44) and redshirt freshman Allison Hepp (2:26.87) went 3-4 in the women’s 800-meter run. 

Back at the pit, Oklahoma swept both long jump competitions, with senior Greg Vann (7.24m) winning the men’s long jump and freshman Symone Washington (5.66m) securing first in the women’s competition. Freshmen Nicole Ezeoke and Deja Alexis rounded out the top three behind Washington. Ezeoke recorded an 18-0.5 (5.50m), while Alexis jumped an indoor personal-best 17-11.75 (5.48m). 

In the cage, men’s shot put duo sophomore Cooper Campbell and junior Bradley Daboub took home second and fourth place with throws of 61-4.25 (17.95m) and 55-3.5 (16.85m), respectively. For the women, redshirt junior Meia Gordon tossed an indoor PR 54-4.50 (16.57m), while sophomore Lauren Jones threw her own indoor personal-best mark of 48-8.0 (14.83m). The pair took second and third overall, bested only by unattached competitor and OU alumna Jess Woodard, who threw it 17.58m, tying her own collegiate personal-best from her time as a Sooner. 

To close the day, freshmen Brooks Glanton and Quoi Ellis teamed up with sophomores Myles Wheeler and Sorre Bah to earn fourth place in the men’s 4×400-meter relay, clocking in at 3:27.53.

“It was good to see some of the freshmen,” VanHootegem said. “It was a good week with a lot of chances for people to get things done, and they took advantage of it.”

Up next, the Sooners split up once again to send some members of the team to Ames, Iowa, for the Iowa State Classic, while the rest of the squad will head to Fayetteville, Ark., for the Tyson Invitational. 

For more information on Oklahoma track and field, follow the Sooners on Twitter and Instagram (@OU_Track) and like Oklahoma Sooners Track & Field and Cross Country on Facebook.

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