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Govs’ home meet produces impressive finishes

Robert Smith/Tnsports360.com

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn.— Inclement weather may have forced Austin Peay’s track and field team to condense its annual home meet to a one-day, Friday, affair at Fortera Stadium, but the Govs seemed to rally around their circumstances and posted some of the best marks Austin Peay student-athletes have put forth in 2018-19.

If there was a track event that went down on Friday, chances are the Govs were involved and chances are pretty good they won it or came close. To begin the track portion of the event, senior Caroline Kiplagat posted a 12:07.94 mark to win the 3000-meter steeplechase—on her Senior Day, no less—and the Govs were off and running, pun somewhat intended.

The 4x100m quartet of Tiyanna JohnsonKyra WilderTymeitha Tolbert and Lennex Walker followed with another winning performance, taking the top spot by more than a second against UT Martin with a 47.13 mark. The hosts graciously allowed someone else to win the 1500m event, but more wins followed soon thereafter. Walker posted a personal-best in the 100m hurdles at 14.16, with Kamille Dunbar right behind her in second (personal-best 14.49). Four Govs were among the top six finishers in the 400m dash, with Sabrina Richman taking the top spot at 56.04, followed by Amelia Thiesing (56.34, second), Allana Johnson (fourth, 58.45) and Jessica Kelley (sixth, 59.84), with the latter winning the second heat.

In the 100m dash, Wilder was the first Gov across the line in a blistering—and personal-best—12.06 mark, but she was by no means the only standout in black and red. The first six finishers in the event, separate by less than half a second, were all Governors, with Tiyanna Johnson (personal-best 12.26), Tolbert (12.27), Garielle Netter (12.34), Maya Perry-Grimes (12.41) and Diamond Battle (12.51) dominating the event.

Wilder wasn’t done, either; later in the event, she came back to win the 200m dash with a personal-best 24.29 mark, pacing five Govs in the top-six alongside Richman (third, 24.56), Tiyanna Johnson (fourth, 25.12), Thiesing (fifth, 25.46) and Walker (sixth, 25.53).

Perry-Grimes did plenty of damage in the field as well, wining the triple jump and taking over the Ohio Valley Conference lead in the event with a 12.15m mark; she also took runner-up honors in the long jump at a personal-best 5.75m, the latter a mark that should move her comfortably into the top-100 in the NCAA East region and the former likely to bump her into the top-75 in the triple. Walker placed third in the long jump with a 5.60m mark, with Kelley (personal-best 5.55m) and Gibbs-Francis (personal-best 5.17m) also in the top-six. Continuing the thread of the narrative, Gibbs-Francis also took runner-up honors in the high jump with a 1.66m mark.

While the Govs didn’t win the 800m run, but a trio of Govs placed in the top-five. Freshman Mikaela Smith’s 2:15.37 mark was a personal-best, netting her runner-up honors; fellow first-year runners Madison Morstad (2:20.05) and Molly Howard (2:20.55) took fourth and fifth, respectively. Smith (1:05.41) placed fourth and Gibbs-Francis (1:03.74) took second in the 400m hurdles, the second straight week Gibbs-Francis has exceled in the hurdles.

Freshman throwers Jackie Verseman and Kori McDaniel enjoyed productive first home meets as Governors. In the shot put, McDaniel took runner-up and Verseman placed third, tossing 12.72m and 11.80m respectively. Verseman (36.41m) was fourth and McDaniel (36.17m) was fifth in the discus, while Verseman also tallied a sixth-place, personal-best 42.87m toss in the hammer.

In the pole vault, sophomore Morgan Bradley continues her late-season progression after returning from injury, putting up a 3.70m mark in the event and taking runner-up based on number of attempts.

Well after dark, the Govs picked up one more individual win and another victory in the relays to close out the event. In her final appearance at Fortera Stadium, senior Emmaculate Kiplagat won the 5000m with an 18:24.33 mark, while the 4x400m relay quartet of Thiesing, Wilder, Richman and Allana Johnson posted a win with a 3:50.93 run.

This being a home meet, the men’s cross country team got some work in as well, with Nash Young posting a fifth-place, 1:55.14 finish in the 800m run.

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