HPU’s Miller Wins Vault Title To Lead Men’s Track At Big South Indoors

• Junior vaulter Austin Miller set a new Big South indoor meet record while finishing first with a vault of 5.05m; the mark tied Miller’s HPU school record
• The Panthers earned 13 points with three top-6 finishes in the 3000m run
• HPU sits in second place through four events with 34 points

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Junior Austin Miller set a new Big South Indoor Championship record in the pole vault to lead High Point University on day one of the league meet Thursday at the JDL Fast Track.

Miller matched his school record vault of 5.05m (16-6.75) to earn a first-place finish in the event and score 10 points for the Panthers. The mark broke the previous Big South meet record of 5.00m set in 2008.

The victory helped push HPU into second place after four events and day one of competition at the league meet. Liberty leads the meet with 59 points, while HPU’s total is 34 points. Campbell is in third with 33 points, while Gardner-Webb (17) and Winthrop (12) round out the field.

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

In addition to Miller, junior Harris Coley finished fifth in the vault (4.55m, 14-11) while freshman Todd Uckermark was seventh in 4.40m (14-5.25).

Miller’s performance was one of a string of good finishes that set the Panthers up well for Friday’s competition.

The Purple & White earned a combined 13 points in the 3000m run after posting a trio of top-6 finishes. Freshman Ryan Udvadia started his first Big South meet in style with a third-place finish (8:37.26), while junior Paddy Grandinali placed fifth in 8:38.55. Fellow junior Benji Szalai earned a sixth-place finish in 8:39.41.

“The 13 points we picked up in the 3000m with Ryan, Paddy, and Benji was one above what we had anticipated going in,” Dudley said. “It’s great to see freshmen like Ryan on the podium. It suggests more good things to come from him.”

HPU’s quartet of freshman James Quattlebaum, junior Nick Hula and sophomores Vinny Todaro and Luke Goodrich earned six points for the Panthers with a third-place finish in the distance medley relay. The Panthers posted a time of 10:17.07 in the event.

“The men’s DMR was an incredible race, as you’d expect at a championship meet,” Dudley said. “James Quattlebaum ate up a huge deficit in the first 200m of his 800m leg to put us back in the lead. Chris Colo was so close to holding off the charge from Liberty and Campbell, but couldn’t quite match their finishing speed down the stretch. Still, six points in that event is what we had ourselves down for on paper.”

Junior Will Narramore earned five points for HPU with a solid fourth-place finish in the long jump. The Nashville, Tenn., native posted a mark of 6.74m (22-1.5) to lead the Panthers after finishing eighth in the event at the 2014 indoor league meet.

Through four events in the heptathlon, redshirt-senior Tristan Faure sits in fourth place with 2661 points, while sophomore Eric Purnell is fifth with 2526 points. Faure finished third in the long jump (6.47m, 21-2.75) and high jump (1.88m, 6-2) portions of the event, while Purnell ran a season-best time of 7.12 seconds to win the 60m dash section of the heptathlon. The final three events begin with the 60m hurdles Friday at 10 a.m.

“Tristan and Eric are right in the middle of a dogfight,” Dudley said. “In a competition in which everyone was a bit off in something, the important thing will be who competes and who perseveres. Tristan has made big gains in his day two performances – we’ll have to see if it’s enough.”

HPU’s sprinters put forth strong performances on day one of competition. Junior Andrew Kuras and freshman James House posted identical times of 7.03 seconds in the 60m dash preliminaries to finish t-3rd and qualify for Friday’s final (11:25 a.m.).

Kuras and House also qualified for the 200m dash finals with solid preliminary races. House was second in the prelim (22.60) while Kuras was third (22.87).

The Panthers qualified two student-athletes for the finals of the 800m run. Goodrich placed third in the prelim in a time of 1:56.86 while junior Paul O’Donoghue was fifth in 1:57.89. Sophomore Nick Williams placed 10th in 2:02.33.

In the shot put, junior Jim Wilson just missed out on scoring with a ninth place finish. Wilson posted a throw of 13.61m (44-8).

Hula just missed out on qualifying for the 400m dash final after placing ninth with a time of 51.65 seconds in the preliminary.

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