HPU’s Ocasio Wins 1500m Title To Lead Women’s Track At ECU Invite

• Sophomore Natalia Ocasio won the 1500m run in a PR of 4:35.20
• Senior Leah Anne Wirfel ran one of the top-5 times in HPU history while finishing second in the 3000m run (9:56.00)
• Alyssa Palenchar, Jill Marois and Catelyn Griffin posted top-5 finishes in the pole vault

GREENVILLE, N.C. – Sophomore Natalia Ocasio captured her first career 1500m title to lead the High Point University women’s track & field team on day two of the Bill Carson Invitational on the campus of East Carolina University.

Ocasio’s time of 4:35.20 broke her previous collegiate PR by more than six seconds and earned her 10 points for the Panthers.

Ocasio’s showing helped HPU post a fourth-place finish at the Bill Carson Invite (74 points) and finish ahead of Charlotte and UNC Wilmington. SEC program South Carolina won the meet with 203 points.

“I’m very pleased all the way around with our effort,” head coach Mike Esposito said. “Our throwers set the stage on Friday and we carried that momentum into a great overall performance today. This is what track & field should be like – a scored meet against national competition in which we truly performed at a high level.”

Also on the track, senior Leah Anne Wirfel set a new PR in the 3000m run with an impressive time of 9:56.00. The strong time earned Wirfel a second-place finish and eight points for the Panthers. Junior Erika Peoples placed 18th in 11:32.32.

“Leah Anne Wirfel’s time is one of the top-5 ever run by an HPU student-athlete in the 3000m run. The under-10 minute barrier is a difficult one to break and we’re very proud of her,” Esposito said. “And Natalia is really progressing well and is looking great for the conference meet coming up in a few weeks.”

HPU picked up an impressive 17 points in the pole vault, led by a second-place showing from junior Alyssa Palenchar (3.65m, 11-11.75). Fellow junior Jill Marois placed fourth with a vault of 3.50m (11-5.75) and senior Catelyn Griffin finished fifth with a mark of 3.35m (10-11.75).

On the jumps circuit, sophomore Alexis Fernandez tallied five points for HPU with a fourth-place finish in the triple jump (11.34m, 37-2.50). Sophomore Amanda Gregory finished ninth in the long jump and set a new overall PR (5.48m, 17-11.75) while freshman Kela Seals set an outdoor PR while placing 12th (5.10m, 16-10.75).

Junior Erica Herrmann and sophomore Erika Bridges tied for ninth in the high jump with a mark of 1.55m (5-1).

Freshman Ashlynn Schiro finished seventh in the 400m hurdles to earn two points with a PR of 1:03.41 and junior Lilla Lorand was eighth in a season-best time of 1:03.57.

“Lilla and Ashlynn ran well in the 400m hurdles and it was nice to see Amanda Gregory setting a new PR in the long jump,” Esposito added.

In the 800m run, Ocasio and Collin picked up a combined five points for HPU while posting season-best times. Ocasio placed sixth in 2:17.05 and Collin was seventh in 2:17.87. Collin also finished 11th in the 800m run (4:47.41).

The 4x400m relay team of Lorand, senior Emily Fischer, junior Sara Katherine Kirkpatrick and sophomore Jessica Wise earned six points with a third-place finish (4:01.38).

In throws action, junior Jamie Schnuck finished ninth in the shot put with a mark of 11.00m (36-1.25).

HPU returns to action on Saturday (April 18) at the Big South 4-Way in Buies Creek, N.C.