HPU’s Marois Wins Vault Title To Lead Women’s Track At Big South Indoors

• Junior Jill Marois won HPU’s first ever indoor Big South pole vault title with a mark of 3.60m; It marked the second Big South title of Marois’ career
• HPU earned a total of nine points with three top-10 finishes in the 3000m run
• High Point sits in third place through five events with 34.66 points

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University women’s track & field team enjoyed a spectacular performance from its pole vault unit on day one of competition at the Big South Indoor Championships Thursday.

Junior Jill Marois captured the first indoor pole vault title in HPU program history with a vault of 3.60m (11-9.75) to earn 10 points and lead the Panthers on day one of competition. The victory marks Marois’ second Big South title of her career, as the junior also won the outdoor vault title in 2014. The win also was High Point’s first individual women’s Big South title since 2012.

Marois cleared the mark on her first attempt to win the title over a trio of other competitors who also reached 3.60m. Fellow Panthers Catelyn Griffin and Alyssa Palenchar also hit the mark to earn 6.3 points each for HPU.

“What a phenomenal team performance our group put together in the women’s pole vault,” associate head coach Eric Dudley said. “We put three women in the top-2. Jill, who was tied for sixth going into the 3.60m height somehow crab-walked her way over the bar on her first attempt, which was enough for the win. Alyssa and Catelyn, who were both clean up to that point, cleared on their second attempts, which earned them a tie for the second spot. All three were hungry and capable of clearing the next bar (3.75m) and winning, and each had at least one great attempt at that next bar.”

The 22.6 points in the vault helped HPU to a third-place standing through five events at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem. Liberty leads the event with 62.5 points, while Coastal Carolina is second with 38. HPU has 34.66 points, while Gardner-Webb (19.83) and Radford (16) are in spots four and five. Charleston Southern (12), Campbell (9) and UNC Asheville (3) round out the field.

“Today’s performances were solid, and enough to keep us within reach of our team goals for this championship,” Dudley said. “For many, their journey is only half over, with finals in most of the track events taking place tomorrow.”

The Panthers earned nine total points in the 3000m run behind a trio of strong finishes. Senior Leah Anne Wirfel placed fifth for the Panthers with a collegiate PR of 10:02.94 while sophomore Cozette Collin was sixth while also posting a collegiate best time (10:22.45). Hayes finished seventh in 10:29.35.

“In the women’s 3000m Leah Anne, Cozette, and Kelly picked up nine big team points,” Dudley said. “The race kind of ran like an accordion, where it would spread and bunch, but they all put themselves in scoring positions when it counted.”

HPU’s distance medley relay team finished sixth to earn three points for the Panthers. The quartet of juniors Katie Farina and Erika Peoples, sophomore Jessica Wise and Hayes put together a time of 12:32.54 to post the sixth-place finish.

Junior Sara Katherine Kirkpatrick picked up three points for HPU after registerinf 3108 points to earn a sixth-place finish in the pentathlon. The finish was two spots and 91 points higher than her 2014 indoor finish. Sophomore Erika Bridges finished 11th with 2710 points. Kirkpatrick’s best finish came in the 800m run where she placed second (2:27.67) while Bridges finished second in the high jump portion (1.58m, 5-2.25).

“Sara Katherine moved up in the rankings to finish sixth in the heptathlon,” Dudley added. “While she still relies on the strength of her high jump and 800m, she’s doing a much better job of holding her own in the other events now too.”

Members of HPU’s “Fab Four” freshmen hurdlers had a fab debut in their first Big South meet, as both Ashlynn Schiro and Haley Cianfarini qualified for the 60m hurdles final after a strong preliminary race Thursday. Schiro finished seventh in a collegiate best time of 8.96 seconds, while Cianfarini placed eighth in a PR of 9.26 seconds. CeAnna Soper also raced well and placed 12th in 9.63 seconds. Schiro and Cianfarini will compete in the final Friday at 11:10 a.m.

“We had two freshmen step up in the 60m hurdles in Ashlynn and Haley,” Dudley said. “Both ran PRs in the prelims to make the finals. They were so excited, it really means a lot to them.”

Sophomore Natalia Ocasio also performed well in her preliminary, qualifying for the finals of the 800m run with a time of 26:16:66. The time put her third amongst competitors in the prelim.

In throws action, junior Jamie Schnuck placed 16th in the shot put with a mark of 10.45m (34-3.50).

On the sprints circuit, junior Emily De Lena placed 13th in the preliminaries of the 60m dash in a time of 7.87 seconds, while sophomore Amanda Gregory was 17th in 8.11 seconds. De Lena also competed in the 200m dash for HPU and finished 14th in a time of 25.97 seconds.

Junior Lilla Lorand finished 12th in the 400m dash prelims with a time of 58.83 seconds while Schiro was 19th in 1:00.37. Senior Emily Fischer placed 22nd in 1:00.94 while sophomore Jessica Wise finished 24th (1:02.10).

“Emily De Lena had a really nice PR in the 60m dash and Lilla ran the best indoor 400m of her collegiate career, but missed qualifying for the finals,” Dudley added.

Sophomore Alyn Carr placed 13th in the long jump (5.03m, 16-6) while freshman Kela Seals was right behind in 14th with a mark of 5.02m (16-5.75). Gregory placed 16th (4.98m, 16-4.25) while fellow sophomore Alexis Fernandez was 17th (4.96m, 16-3.25).

HPU wraps up the 2015 Big South Indoor Championships Friday at the JDL Fast Track.