Vaulters and throwers lead HPU women’s track at Big South

• Seniors Jill Marois and Alyssa Palenchar tied for second place in the pole vault with a mark of 3.75m (12-3.5)
• Senior Jamie Schnuck finished third in the weight throw while breaking her own school record for the fifth time this season (17.46m, 57-3.5)
• Senior Julia Zautcke posted her best 3000m time in two years while placing fifth (10:21.12)

BLACKSBURG, Va. – A trio of senior vaulters and throwers led the High Point University women’s track & field team on day one of competition at the Big South Championship.

With 33 points, High Point sits in a tie for third place with Winthrop through six events. Liberty leads the conference meet with 61.5 points, followed by Coastal Carolina (35). Campbell (22), Gardner-Webb (18.50), Radford (16) and UNC Asheville round out the field after one day of competition in Blacksburg.

Senior Jamie Schnuck went back and forth with some of the best weight throw student-athletes in the conference during an exciting afternoon in the throws area. The competition culminated with Schnuck breaking her own school record for the fifth time this season with an extraordinary mark of 17.46m (57-3.5).

The throw earned Schnuck a third-place finish and six points for the Purple & White. Sophomore Makenzi Holmes-DiGiovine joined Schnuck in the event and placed 12th (14.78m, 48-6).

In addition to Schnuck, the Panther pole vault group put together a strong showing for the Purple & White on day one of competition. Seniors Jill Marois and Alyssa Palenchar both cleared the 3.75m bar (12-3.5) on their first tries to tie for second place and pick up a combined 14 points for the Purple & White. It marks the second-straight year the duo has posted a pair of top-2 finishes in the event.

Also in the vault, junior Katie Benavente just missed scoring while posting a PR of 3.15m (10-4) to place ninth, while junior Madison Depner also cleared the 3.15m bar.

On the jumps circuit, junior Amanda Gregory posted a career-best indoor mark in the long jump (5.46m, 17-11) to finish seventh and grab a pair of points for the Purple & White. Fellow junior Alyn Carr placed 15th (5.10m, 16-8.75).

“Jamie has come such a long way since she joined our team as a sophomore and the way she competed today was a lot of fun to watch,” head coach Mike Esposito said. “Our vaulters were in control until the last bar, but they are getting better and bigger bars are right around the corner. It was great to see Amanda Gregory score in the long jump and I thought our pentathletes competed extremely well. Julia Zautcke also looked excellent in the 3k and we are excited to watch her in the 5k tomorrow.”

Senior Julia Zautcke posted her best 3000m time in two seasons Friday (10:21.12) to finish fifth in the 3000m run and pick up four points for the Panthers. Junior Natalia Ocasio was seventh (10:32.01) and senior Erika Peoples placed 10th (10:54.31).

HPU’s pentathletes put together good efforts in a competitive group of student-athletes. Junior Erika Bridges posted a collegiate best point total for the second time this season, finishing with 3169 points to place ninth. Senior Sara Katherine Kirkpatrick notched a season high point total (3010) and was right behind in 10th.

Bridges set new collegiate bests in the 60m hurdles (9.47 seconds), high jump (1.62m, 5-3.75) and shot put (8.65m, 28-4.50) in a good day for the junior. Kirkpatrick PR’d in the 60m hurdles (10.13 seconds).

A trio of Panthers suited up in the 60m hurdles trials on Friday afternoon. Sophomore Ashlynn Schiro led HPU with a 10th-place finish (9.25 seconds), while fellow sophomores Haley Cianfarini (9.45 seconds) and Mikaela Campbell (9.56 seconds) finished 12th and 14th, respectively.

In the 800m prelims, junior Cozette Collin placed 11th (2:20.33) while Ocasio finished 12th (2:22.20).

The Panthers wrap up competition at the Big South Indoor Track & Field Championship Saturday.