PITTSBURG — After sweeping this year’s MIAA conference tournament, Pittsburg State’s men’s and women’s outdoor teams added to their impressive trophy case. The Pitt State men earned their fifth MIAA outdoor title in the last six years. The women’s team secured their fourth-straight MIAA championship.
Kelsey Lewis, who finished as the MIAA runner-up in 100 and 200 meters, attributed her performance to her mindset heading into the competition.
“My mindset was to remain calm and not overthink,” said Lewis. “When you overthink, you usually overcompensate.”
Senior Emilee Iverson shared a similar thought process, heading into her last MIAA Championships.
““I went into the event with the ‘I have nothing to lose’ mindset. Being a senior, I focused on enjoying the experience and competing to the best of my abilities.”
Iverson had her best High Jump performance of the year, clearing the 174m bar on her way to the Women’s High Jump crown.
“During the event, I cleared 171m on my first attempt,” said Iverson. “I was hoping to see someone clear it as well so I can have the thrill of competition, but no one made it. Next it went up to 174m, which I haven't come close to all year. I cleared it on my first attempt, which was an awesome feeling.”
During the competition, the men’s team stumbled out of the gate. Junior NaRon Rollins pulled the track runners aside to encourage his teammates.
“For us it’s all about focus,” said Rollins. “I pulled my guys aside, and we spoke and had a switch of mentality heading into Sunday, where we helped set the tone for the rest of the team.”
Rollins responded by winning the MIAA Men’s High Point Scorer Award, capturing the 100m and 200m championships as well as helping the men’s 400m relay team in their fourth place finish.
Pittsburg native and Men’s High Jump Champion Ian Duncan felt it was his responsibility to help up-lift his teammates after they did the same for him at last year’s tournament.
“At the championships their are always going to be kids who underperform,” said Duncan. “That was me last year. I had a bad performance at the conference tournaments for both indoor and outdoor, and my teammates stepped up for me. So I’m glad to be able to step up for my teammates this time.”
Iverson contributes her performance to the bond she shares and the inspiration she gains from her teammates.
“Winning my event was inspired by watching my teammates doing such a great job,” said Iverson. “The bond me and my teammates share is indescribable. This program is like a family. Receiving text messages and phone calls from alumni before the event just shows that tradition runs deep here. The bond we share is something that can’t be replaced.”
Now the athletes must turn their attention to the upcoming national tournament that will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina on May 24.
“It’s a bittersweet feeling.” said Iverson, as she prepares for her last nationals. “My body is ready for it to be over but my mind is up to the challenge. It’s a little sad, but I know I have to train hard and not overthink things. I want to go and have fun, and let my ability take me where it can.”
“You get nervous,” added Rollins. “But I trust the coaching staff and my abilities. I believe that God put me here for a reason, and as long as I stay hungry and humble the sky's the limit.”