School Records Fall For HPU Women’s Track At Highlander Invite

• Sophomore Natalia Ocasio broke the HPU school record while claiming the title in the 3000m steeplechase in a time of 10:49.76
• Juniors Alyssa Palenchar and Jill Marois took down the HPU outdoor vault record together with matching marks of 3.81m (12-5)
• Sophomore Alexis Fernandez won the first individual event title of her career with a victory in the triple jump

RADFORD, Va. – Sophomore Natalia Ocasio set a new school record in the 3000m steeplechase, while juniors Alyssa Palenchar and Catelyn Griffin broke the HPU vault record on a strong weekend for the High Point University women’s track & field team at the Highlander Invite.

Ocasio’s record time of 10:49.76 was close to 25 seconds better than her previous collegiate PR and broke the school record of Kelsey Fraser (10:52.72), set at the Big South Championship in 2011. Ocasio has won both 3000m steeplechase races she has competed in this season.

In addition to Ocasio, freshman Kelly Hayes made her steeplechase debut and finished second in a time of 11:29.20.

Palenchar and Marois tied for third in the pole vault with a new HPU top mark of 3.81m (12-5). The mark broke Palenchar’s previous outdoor record of 3.72m (12-2.5). In addition to the dynamic junior duo, senior Catelyn Griffin finished sixth with a vault of 3.51m (11-6).

“This week’s school records by Natalia, Alyssa and Jill are a testament to their persistence,” associate head coach Eric Dudley said. “Each has had struggles, frustrations and doubts along the way. It was awesome to see each find such success this weekend. Jill and Alyssa are about one bar away from NCAA Preliminary qualifying marks, and Natalia is only about two seconds per lap away in the steeple.”

In another strong showing Saturday, sophomore Alexis Fernandez won the triple jump to claim the first individual event title of her HPU career. Fernandez posted a jump of 11.01m (36-1.5) to win the event crown.

Also on the jumps circuit, sophomore Alyn Carr finished eighth in the long jump with a PR of 5.17m (16-11.5). Freshman Ashlynn Schiro placed 10th with an outdoor PR of 5.11m (16-9). Decathletes Erika Bridges (5.01m, 16-5) and Sara Katherine Kirkpatrick (4.79m, 15-8.5) also set new PRs in the event.

Kirkpatrick posted a mark of 1.52m (4-12) to finish second in the high jump on Saturday and also finished fifth in the 200m dash with a time of 28.12.

In other distance action, junior Julia Zautcke placed fourth in the 5000m run (18:50.17) while senior Krista Willard was fifth in 19:11.05. Junior Kasey Spence finished sixth (19:25.13). Sophomore Cozette Collin led HPU with a 10th place finish in the 1500m run (4:50.75).

Freshman Mackenzie Vermette was HPU’s lone competitor in the javelin and finished sixth with a throw of 34.24m (112-4).

HPU will have a respite from competition next weekend and will return to action May 6-7 at the Duke Twilight event in Durham, N.C.