It wasn’t the NCAA Division II National Championships or the MIAA meet but for Cassie Caswell and the rest of the Pittsburg State track and field team, it certainly felt like it.
On Friday, Pittsburg State hosted their second indoor track and field Pitt State Invitational in the Robert W. Plaster Center.
“There was a lot of talent here, a lot of conference schools and kids that we see at the national level,” Caswell said. “It’s good to see them before nationals.”
If it was a pre-nuptial for the national meet, then Caswell made it count. The senior threw for 15.14 meters to finish in first place in the women’s shot put.
“It’s great to be competing at home,” Caswell said. “It’s awesome to compete against all of these athletes here. It was a good atmosphere. It’s a lot of fun to see the kind of competition that we’ll see at nationals. It puts you in that mindset to throw farther because it matters. It gets you ready to compete at that level.”
It was a personal record for Caswell.
Jasmine Smith was third in the shot put with a throw of 14.21 meters while Central Missouri’s Heavin Warner was second with 14.59.
“We’ve been working on a few issues with staying in the ring,” said Pittsburg State assistant coach Brian Mantooth. “She’s been a little off but she battled today and did the best. She had a nice personal record.”
In the men’s shot put, Garrett Appier was first with a throw of 19.51 meters
“It was a good meet,” Mantooth said. “Garrett Appier threw a couple of centimeters off from his very best. It was a good mark this week for our athletes. We’ve been waiting around for finals to perform our best but today we put an emphasis on prelims. We did very well. Cassie re-broke her record in the shot put. It was just an overall good performance. The competition was great. It was a very deep field.”
Louis Rollins was second for the Gorillas in the long jump with a jump of 7.13 meters.
In the women’s high jump, Emilee Iverson was first with a jump of 1.76 meters, beating out Natalie O’Keefe of Southwest Baptist.
“We talked about it in the team meeting the other day as coming together as a squad,” Mantooth said. “Making the track and field team here at Pitt State more of a team sport and getting more athletes involved with their performances and we did a good job of that today.”
Hannah DeVries was second in the women’s 5000-meter run in a time of 17:56.41.
Emily Dearman was second in the women’s 600-yard run with a time of 1:22.70.
Unlike the first meet of the season, which had less than 10 schools competing, Friday’s meet featured over 40 schools, giving the competition a national championship feel.
“December was a warm up meet,” Mantooth said. “We only had five or six teams then. Today, we had close to 55. Anytime you do that, things will be different. But anytime you get to compete at home, it’s great.”