LIBERTY, Mo. - Park University posted 18 lifetime bests and the women's team won the Darrel Gourley Open, hosted by William Jewell College in Liberty.
Jerosan Fletcher highlighted the early part of the meet for the Pirates, winning the long jump by nearly half a meter with a jump of 5.62 meters. She later nearly claimed gold in a second event, edged by Lincoln's Kimberly Bailey in the 200-meter dash, running it in 24.50, a mark that will qualify for the NAIA national championships, marking Fletcher's second event in the outdoor event, in May. The Park women also had fifth- and sixth-place pole vaults from Michaela Voss and Kaitlyn McNeely, and Kristin Johnson was eighth in the triple jump.
Aaliyah Brown also had a strong afternoon of field events, finishing third in the hammer throw with another school record of 45.37 meters, and first in the shot put, with a shot of 13.35 meters. Although Brown and Fletcher had big performances for the Pirates, it came down to Mary Beth Bailey's 10K race to win the meet for Park, picking up a second place finish for the Pirates to edge Lincoln University in the team standings.
"We had some really good performances on both sides of the meet and the kids competed very, very hard," said Park track coach Brian Renshaw. "Jerosan and Aaliyah both had great events that they were able to win, and there was a while early in the meet where we were way ahead in the women's team standings. It was a good day for us and we can build on it. It's great to win a meet like this."
On the men's side, newcomer Gregory Vasquez had one of his best performances as a Pirate, finishing fourth in the steeplechase, and in the 1,500 meters, Emily High picked up a 10-place finish for the Park women, finishing second in her section. In the women's 800, Persis Grubbbs' was park's best finisher, in ninth place, and in the men's race, William Henry ran 2:01 to finish seventh in the 800.
Luke Bailey picked up a 10K win, running the event in 32 minutes, and men's team score was also aided by a third-place finish in the 4x400-meter relay team of Johnathan Hair, David Jackson, Danny Tucker and William Henry. In the women's 4X400, Kristin Johnson, Laini Brown, Esther Loukawila and Persis Grubbs were able to post a fourth-place finish for the Pirates.
"I'm excited to see what we can do in the next couple of meets before conference and nationals," Renshaw said. "We have kids that continue to work and improve, and we have some good marks left in front of us."
Park will send a smaller team to next week's meet - the KU Relays, in Lawrence, Kansas.