May 13, 2012
MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Oklahoma State track and field program wrapped up competition at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships, hosted by Kansas State, on Sunday, highlighted by a Big 12 title from Natalja Piliusina in the 800 meters.
The Cowboys finished in a tie with Kansas for seventh place after posting 64 team points. It is the Cowboys’ highest finish at the outdoor conference meet since they placed sixth at the 1994 Big Eight Outdoor Championships. It is also the most team points they’ve recorded since they earned 66 in 1986, also at the Big Eight meet. The Cowgirls finished 10th with 38 team points, which is the most since they posted 39 in 2006.
“We were in striking distance, and we had a chance to get in there and beat Texas Tech and get fifth, but we just came up short,” coach Dave Smith said. “I’m happy. We were hoping to get in the top five. We didn’t quite get there, but the guys went out there and went for it.”
Piliusina, a sophomore from Klaipeda, Lithuania, won the Big 12 outdoor championship in the 800 meters for the second-straight season after posting a time of 2:05.23, which was more than a second faster than runner up finisher Kendra Chambers of Texas. Piliusina has also won the indoor 800 meter Big 12 championships each of the past two seasons.
“She is so good, and she is so confident running that event that you almost take for granted that there is 10 points coming from her,” Smith said. “It’s her fourth-straight 800-meter title – two indoors, two outdoors – and she’s kind of the queen of the 800 in the Big 12, and I don’t think she’s looking to relinquish that title anytime soon.”
Toni Young finished runner up in the high jump after recording an effort of six feet, one and 1/2 inches. Her mark was tied with Shanay Briscoe of Texas, but Young missed her first attempt with the bar set at five feet, 10 and 3/4 inches and Briscoe did not miss any attempts, which gave Briscoe the title. For Young, that mark tops her previous season best and set a new school record.
“Toni Young is an incredible competitor, and she’s heartbroken that she didn’t win that,” Smith said.
Sophomore Kate Kujawa had an impressive showing in the 3,000 meter steeplechase, placing second after running a 10:35.29.
“It was a big, big step forward for Kate Kujawa,” Smith said. “She got out there and competed, looked confident. Second place is fantastic for a sophomore and I’m really proud of her.”
Cowgirl sophomore Caileigh Glenn and senior Teran Mixon each scored for the Cowgirls in the 1,500 meters, placing fifth and sixth respectively. Glenn ran a 4:31.64, while Mixon crossed the finish line in 4:31.99.
“Teran is fifth-year senior who had her best finish at the Big 12 meet today in her last race, so it’s a great way to end her career here,” Smith said. “Caileigh Glenn is just getting started figuring out how good she is.”
Also scoring for the women was freshman Monika Juodeskaite, who came in seventh in the 5,000 meters after running a 16:47.59.
“She’s a little hard on herself because she thinks she should have run better,” Smith said. “I’m pretty pleased with the way she ran. There’s much better things to come from her. She’s a very driven young woman, and she’s going to be much better because she’s going to force herself to be.”
Four Cowboys advanced in last night’s 1,500 preliminary round to advance to today’s final race. German Fernandez finished second after running a 3:43.70, crossing the finish line just .22 seconds after Riley Masters of Oklahoma.
Kirubel Erassa placed fourth with a time of 3:43.99, while Raul Botezan came in right behind him with a 3:44.08. Shane Moskowitz placed eighth after running a 3:49.12. The four runners combined to give the Cowboys 18 team points.
“That 1,500 meter final had six of the top 15 guys in the country in that race,” Smith said. “Our guys ran really aggressively. I was really impressed with the guys that competed.”
In the 3,000 meter steeplechase, two Cowboys scored and set personal records in the process. Freshman Fabian Clarkson placed second in the event after running an 8:46.72, which stands as the sixth-best effort in OSU history, while junior Taylor Monaghan placed fifth after clocking an 8:58.21.
“Fabian is tough, tough kid who got in there and ran a great race,” Smith said. “He went with the leader a while and it almost cost him. Coming over the last barrier, he was really starting to fade. He almost caught the barrier and went down, and there was a Texas kid coming up hard behind him.
“Fortunately, he stayed on his feet, crossed the finish line, got a big P.R. and a second place finish as a freshman is fantastic.”
In the 5,000 meters, three Cowboys who scored for OSU in previous races came through again to give the Cowboys 13 team points. Shadrack Kipchirchir came in third place to lead the trio of Cowboys in the top eight after running a 14:03.02.
Fernandez finished just behind Kipchirchir in fourth place after recording a time of 14:03.34, while Girma Mecheso ran a 14:12.64 to place eighth. Smith said he was especially proud of Fernandez for performing at a high level in two races on the day after battling through injuries the past two seasons.
“German Fernandez is coming back and I’m just so happy for him,” Smith said. “He’s such a good kid, he works so hard and it’s been hard on him to struggle the last two years. He’s finding his rhythm again and he’s going to get better.”
OSU will return to action when it travels to Austin, Texas, for the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds on May 24-26.
Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championships
Women’s 800 Meters
Women’s 3,000 Meter Steeplechase
Women’s High Jump
Women’s Discus Throw
Men’s 5,000 Meters
Men’s High Jump
Men’s Discus Throw
Final Team Scores