PITTSBURG — The Pittsburg state track & field team is set to host its second NCAA DII Indoor National Championship on Friday and Saturday inside the Robert W. Plaster Center.
Coming on the heels of winning the MIAA championships, the Gorillas will be represented by 19 combined athletes who are ready to make another push at taking the crown since winning the outdoor championship in 2016.
“We have a pretty well balanced group of men and women in this championship,” PSU head coach Russ Jewett said. “We’re probably a little more heavy in the field events, but if you’re going to do well as a team, you have to have more than one or two athletes do well. We’re proud to have 10 women and nine men in the meet. That’s about as big of a group as we’ve ever qualified, so that certainly gives us some chances.”
The Gorilla men will be represented by five seniors and standout junior NaRon Rollins.
“Our seniors are going to be really important to our team from a leadership and scoring standpoint,” Jewett said. “Tanner McNutt is a fifth-year senior, and he will get us started in the Heptathlon. Hopefully, he’ll get us out to a good start. Bo Farrow is an emotional leader on our team, but he also has to score some points in the shot put for us to do well. Justice Burks is our senior hurdler, and if he can score some points, that would be great momentum for us.”
The PSU women will be represented by four seniors.
“On the women’s side, it’s going to be pretty similar,” Jewett said. “We have some seniors who will need to step up in order for the team to be successful. Courtney Nelson is a senior who runs the hurdles and the 60-meter, and we’ll really be relying on her. Emilee Iverson is one of the best team captains we have and is ranked high in the high jump. We’re really going to have to do well in those events to be successful.”
After winning both of the MIAA championships inside the same building two weeks ago, the Gorillas look to continue their momentum against the top qualifiers in the nation.
“It can be an advantage having just won the conference title here,” Jewett said. “It was a very emotional weekend for us and some recovery time was necessary. We put a lot of stock in our conference championship and our kids did great. As coaches, it’s up to us to help manage those emotions and get refocused. Hopefully, that will be an asset to us.”
Regardless of the outcome, Pitt State looks to come away with a sense of pride and accomplishment.
“We hope all of our kids, freshmen and fifth-year seniors alike, will just stay out of their own way and let their training take over,” Jewett said. “I hope they enjoy competing at home, do their best and just have fun.”
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.