Wirfel, Schnuck Power HPU Women’s Track On Day Three At Big South

• Senior Leah Anne Wirfel finished third in the 5000m run in a PR of 17:06.27
• Junior Jamie Schnuck shattered her own HPU school record in the hammer throw, finishing sixth with a mark of 51.21m (168-0)
• Sophomore Natalia Ocasio placed fifth in the 1500m run (4:36.10)

HIGH POINT, N.C. – Senior Leah Anne Wirfel saved her best for last while junior Jamie Schnuck proved the best is yet to come during a breakout day of competition Saturday at the Big South Track & Field Championships.

Wirfel topped her collegiate PR by more than 15 seconds during a strong third-place finish in the 5000m run. In her final race in an HPU uniform, Wirfel posted an impressive time of 17:06.27 to end her career at the peak of performance.

“Leah Anne took a risk of jumping out early and it paid off,” head coach Mike Esposito said. “Her journey has been amazing and she’s hung in there and battled injuries to have a great senior season. We’re very proud of her.”

In addition to Wirfel’s excellent showing, junior Julia Zautcke finished ninth in 18:31.04 while sophomore Cozette Collin (19:06.01) and senior Lauren Blackwell (19:44.09) placed 16th and 20th, respectively.

In throws action, Schnuck shattered her own HPU school record in the hammer throw, topping 50 meters for the first time with a spectacular mark of 51.21m (168-0). The throw broke her previous top mark by close to three meters and earned her a sixth place finish and three points for the Panthers.

“Jamie’s performance was awesome,” Esposito said. “She continues to improve and push the envelope of what our women’s throws program can achieve. Her throw today was great to see.”

Schnuck and Wirfel helped propel the Panthers to a fourth-place finish at the league meet. The Panthers posted 82 points, just behind third place Campbell (95). Liberty won the meet with 210.5 points.

“I thought our team had a good meet,” Esposito said. “We had some great moments like the steeple last night and Jamie in the hammer today. We were just off a little bit which may have cost us third, but I thought we performed well overall.”

Other highlights for the Panthers included sophomore Natalia Ocasio, who added to her superb Big South showing with a fifth-place finish in the 1500m run (4:36.10). Sophomore Cozette Collin placed seventh in a season-best time of 4:42.58 while freshman Kelly Hayes was 10th in a collegiate PR of 4:51.75. Junior Katie Farina finished 11th in 4:52.48.

Collin added to her point total with a seventh place finish in the 800m run, crossing the finish line in 2:23.77.

The HPU quartet of juniors Emily De Lena and Lilla Lorand, sophomore Amanda Gregory and freshman Mikaela Campbell placed sixth in the 4x100m relay in a season best time of 48:05.

HPU’s 4x400m relay team of senior Emily Fischer, junior Lilla Lorand and Fab Four freshmen Ashlynn Schiro and CeAnna Soper finished ninth in 3:57.94.

In jumps action, sophomore Alexis Fernandez placed seventh in the triple jump with a season-best mark of 11.56m (37-11.25).

The Panthers will now await the announcement of the field for the 2015 NCAA East Region preliminary round scheduled for May 28-30 in Jacksonville, Fla.