HPU Women’s Track Sweeps Opponents At UNCG Dual Meet

• HPU posted a 5-0 dual record against its opponents and captured victories in five individual events on the day
• Senior Leah Anne Wirfel won the 3000m run (10:36.25), while Kelly Hayes earned her first career indoor victory in the mile run (5:27.11)
• Junior Alyssa Palenchar captured her second pole vault victory in three meets this season; junior Jamie Schnuck won the weight throw (15.28m, 50-1.75)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Behind five individual event victories, the High Point University women’s track & field team swept its quintet of dual meet opponents on Sunday at the UNCG Spartan Team Challenge.

The Panthers earned dual meet victories over host UNCG (94-18), NC Central (70-52), Savannah State (93-27), Wofford (95-31) and Campbell (71-54).

“What a wonderful day for our program,” associate head coach Eric Dudley said. “To go 5-0 on the weekend and to dominate conference foe Campbell was fantastic. We talk a lot about competing for each other and as a team, and I think we showed in our first of six team-scoring opportunities that we take it seriously. We came in ready to put points on the board, and we did. Being a strong dual meet team requires two things: a complete well-rounded track team, and depth on that team. We were the deepest, most well balanced program today.”

Four of the five HPU event victories came from HPU’s Big South champion distance unit, which made its season debut on Sunday. The Panthers took the top-4 spots in the 3000m run, led by senior Leah Anne Wirfel who won the event in a time of 10:36.25. Senior Krista Willard placed second with a PR of 10:51.21, while junior Julia Zautcke (11:03.72) and senior Lauren Blackwell (11:34.31) placed third and fourth, respectively.

In the mile run, freshman Kelly Hayes made waves in her indoor debut with a first-place finish. The Pearl River, N.Y., native crossed the finish line in 5:14.92, while junior Julia Zautcke placed second with a time of 5:27.11.

The women’s distance medley relay team also picked up a victory with a solid time of 12:58.44. The quartet of Panthers included sophomore Natalia Ocasio, freshmen Lona Williams, Hayes and junior Erika Peoples.

After setting the HPU school record in the weight throw last weekend, junior Jamie Schnuck continued her exceptional indoor season with a first-place finish in the event on Sunday. She posted a mark of 15.28m (50-1.75) while junior Christina Rickert was third with a mark of 9.29m.

Junior Alyssa Palenchar posted her second pole vault victory in three meets this indoor season with a mark of 3.35m (10-11.75). She was joined in the top-4 of the event by three other Panthers, including senior Catelyn Griffin who was second with a mark of 3.35m (10-11.75). Sophomore Madison Depner placed third (3.20m, 10-6) while senior Ashton Kirby was fourth (2.90m, 9-6.25).

In hurdles action, freshman Ashlynn Schiro finished second in the 60m hurdles with a time of 9.34 seconds while fellow freshmen Mikaela Campbell (9.57), Haley Cianfarini (9.64) and CeAnna Soper (9.85) took spots 6-8 in the event.

Senior Emily Fischer led HPU with a fifth-place finish in the 400m run (1:01.78) while Schiro placed sixth with a time of 1:02.16. In the 200m dash, junior Lilla Lorand returned to action for the Panthers and finished fourth (26.27), while junior Emily De Lena finished fifth in 26.75.

Ocasio placed fourth in the 800m run with a PR of 2:22.22 while freshman Lona Williams was 10th in 2:33.34.

In the lone jumps event of the meet, sophomore Alexis Fernandez finished second with a jump of 11.33m (37-2.25).

“It was great having our championship caliber distance corps on the track for the first time this indoor season,” Dudley added. “They showed up in a big way, taking the top-4 spots in the 3000m and also winning the mile and the DMR. We also picked up good wins with Alyssa in the vault and Jamie in the weight throw. It was good to have Lilla back on the track running well.”

HPU now looks to keep up the momentum from a fantastic dual meet sweep next weekend when the team splits up for a pair of events. HPU’s field unit will remain at JDL for the Hilton Garden Invitational while the distance squad will head to Happy Valley to race at the Penn State National Invitational. Both events will take place Jan. 30-31.