Tue, Apr. 17, 2012 - [Track & Field]
Rio Grande Sports Information
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Given an opportunity to show their collective wares against NCAA Division I competition, the University of Rio Grande's 4x800 meter relay teams certainly didn't disappoint.
Both the women and men established new school records during last Saturday's Sea Ray Invitational, which was hosted by the University of Tennessee. The women's team set a new school mark for the fourth time this year and took sixth place overall with a time of 9:23.82. The record-setting performance also easily surpassed the "A" standard of 9:28.00 needed to qualify for the NAIA National Championship, which will take place May 24-26 at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, IN.
The squad, which included senior Kayla Renner (Galloway, OH), senior Kayla Graves (Chillicothe, OH), freshman Samantha Barnes (Gallipolis, OH) and senior Cassie Mattia (West Chester, OH) broke the previous school-best time of 9:28.20, which was set during the Shamrock Invitational last month at Coastal Carolina University.
Graves joined the foursome last weekend after a regular member of the quartet - junior Amy Lower (Lancaster, OH) - was sidelined by injury.
The men's team, which was comprised of senior Matt Spencer (Pickerington, OH), juniors Chad McCarty (Tipp City, OH) and Nick Wilson (Barlow, OH) and freshman Dustin Moritz (Ironton, OH), placed fifth overall and set a new school-best mark with a finish of 7:53.75. They bettered the old record of 7:54.00, which was set in 1994 by Scott Wenger, Chad Benson, Marc Michigan and Chris Smith.
Saturday's time was just under five seconds slower than the mark needed to qualify for the national championship.
However, like their female counterparts, the men's team was also running with a lineup it normally wouldn't have used. Junior Joe Taranto (Pickerington, OH) did not make the trip due because of an illness.
"I thought the kids ran really well against some really strong competition," Rio head coach Bob Willey said. "We know that we can get faster, though. That's what we're working toward."
The two relay teams were the only Rio Grande representatives at the event.
The entire RedStorm team will return to action on Friday at the Eastern Kentucky Open hosted by Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Ky.