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2019 OVC Outdoor Championships set to kick off Thursday

APSU Women's Track and FieldClarksville, TN – The Austin Peay State University (APSU) track and field heads to Cape Girardeau, MO, to take on the best the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) has to offer beginning Thursday, May 9th at the 2019 OVC Outdoor Championships, hosted by Southeast Missouri.

Austin Peay Track and Field travels to Cape Girardeau, MO for the OVC Outdoor Championships that begin, Thursday. (APSU Sports Information) [1]

Austin Peay Track and Field travels to Cape Girardeau, MO for the OVC Outdoor Championships that begin, Thursday. (APSU Sports Information)

Austin Peay State University heads into the three-day event seeking a return to the top-five during OVC Outdoor competition after slipping last year in part due to ill-timed injuries before and even during the OVC Championships.

It snapped a streak of five consecutive seasons APSU finished among the league’s top-five.

Day One – Thursday

The opening day of competition is always about the multi-events, and there Nia Gibbs-Francis [2] will represent Austin Peay in the heptathlon. With the high jump—her single-sport specialty—set for 9:45am, it will be an excellent opportunity for the senior to get on the board early. She’ll also try to earn a spot in the 400m hurdles final, an event she’s taken up in earnest this spring.

On the track, the 10,000m run final is a late Friday event, scheduled to begin at 6:45pm Senior Emmaculate Kiplagat [3] enters as the top seed, although only five student-athletes across the OVC competed in the event during the regular season. She finished seventh last season in the event to snare some crucial early points for the Govs. In preliminary action, four Govs—Tiyanna Johnson [4], Sabrina Richman [5], Tymeitha Tolbert [6] and 2019 OVC Outdoor Freshman of the Year Kyra Wilder [7]—are among the top-nine seeded competitors in the 200m dash.

With Savannah Amato [8] and Dascha Hix [9] out—both will have the opportunity to redshirt and return for outdoor season in 2020—the pole vault has an added layer of intrigue to it this season. Sophomore Morgan Bradley [10], the 2018 OVC Outdoor Freshman of the Year, is seeded as the favorite, just ahead of Murray State’s Brooke Misukonis, but two Southeast Missouri vaulters in Katie Schumer and Sierra Maddox will be in the mix as well.

Day Two – Friday

Gibbs-Francis wraps up the heptathlon with the long jump, javelin and 800m run, beginning at 9:30 a.m. She’ll be busy on Friday; after the heptathlon concludes around noon, she’ll have just over two hours to rest before the start of the high jump at 2:30pm, where she currently ranks as one of the top-five competitors in the league.

Friday’s field events represent a big opportunity for Austin Peay. Freshman Jackie Verseman [12] ranks eighth in the discus entering the event, while Lennex Walker [13] and Maya Perry-Grimes [14] are tied for eighth in the long jump at 5.75m; if that trio makes it into the top-eight in their respective events and picks up points toward Austin Peay’s final tally, it will help the Govs move up the team leaderboard.

The 3000m steeplechase saw Caroline Kiplagat [15] pick up a point last season with an eighth-place finish last season, a finish she looks to reprise or improve upon in 2019. The 100m, 400m, 800m and 100m hurdles all have their preliminary heats Friday.

The Govs have multiple contenders in all four events, including Wilder in the 100m and 400m dashes; two of the league’s top 400m runners in Sabrina Richman [5], who took bronze in the event last year, and Amelia Thiesing [16]; a 2018 OVC Outdoor bronze medalist and NCAA Regional participant in Tolbert; and one of two OVC 100m hurdles runners to post a sub-14 second mark in the event during 2019 in Lennex Walker [13].

All told, four of the top-nine 100m dash runners scheduled to compete are Govs including Tiyanna Johnson [4], who ranks third in the league.

Meanwhile, there is plenty of opportunity to pick up points young Govs further down the start list. Diamond Battle [17] has made a 100m dash final in her past and could do so again in 2019. Allana Johnson [18] is right on the cusp of a breakthrough in the 400m dash, as are freshmen Mikaela Smith [19] and Maddie Morstad [20] in the 800m.

And one to watch in the hurdles is definitely Camaryn McClelland [21]; she’s missed much of outdoor due to injury but enters the OVC Championships less than two-tenths of a second behind teammate Kamille Dunbar [22], who ranks seventh on the start list.

Day Three – Saturday

The big day begins at 11:00am with the triple jump, where Perry-Grimes stands as one of the favorites, ranking third with a 12.15m seed mark entering the event. McClelland’s eighth at 11.75m on the seed list. At 2:00pm, the shot put wraps up the field events. Kori McDaniel [23] ranks seventh in the event and could challenge SIU Edwardsville’s Alexis Hutchins as the league’s top freshman shot putter.

Much of what happens on the track is predicated on the results of the previous two days’ worth of preliminaries. However, the day is bookended by the 4x100m and 4x400m relays, where the Govs will be among the favorites. Wilder, Battle, Tolbert and Tiyanna Johnson [4] will run the 4x100m, while Wilder, Thiesing, Richman and Allana Johnson [18] are the favorites in the 4x400m.

A recap will be posted at LetsGoPeay.com following each day’s conclusion, while updates will be available on Twitter (@AustinPeayXCTF). LetsGoPeay.com will have on-the-ground coverage both Friday and Saturday.