Lexington, Ky. – The Transylvania track and field team came out swinging in its 2019 outdoor season opener which also served as its home opener, the 2019 Transylvania Invitational which began on Friday night and concluded late Saturday afternoon at Pat Deacon Stadium.
Five different Pioneers established new program records in their respective events as Graham Smith led the overall charge with a victory and program record in the men's javelin. Jacob Burnam made a memorable debut in his first outdoor collegiate track meet with a sizzling first-place finish in the men's 800 meters to set the second of five program records for the Pioneers for the weekend.
After capturing All-Region honors in a spectacular 2019 indoor season, Rian Boelter delivered a new program record in the women's high jump on Saturday. Freshman Hakeim Reedel made a seamless switch from the basketball court to the outdoor track circuit by recording a new program standard in the men's high jump. And Gunnar Eaton started his outdoor junior season with flair by setting a Transylvania record in the hammer throw.
Transylvania track and field head coach Taylor Throckmorton reflected on a busy day across all events for the Pioneers as they signaled a fiery start to the outdoor season. "It was fun to start the season this way against 17 other teams from all different levels including the NAIA, NCAA Division II, Division III, and four different states," said Throckmorton. "This was a great meet with a lot of depth and competition in it and I was really happy with what transpired overall today. It's been a month since our last competition and you're not always sure how your team will perform coming off spring break, so to break five records today is a huge development."
Smith began the weekend of dividends for Transylvania with his record-setting showing on Friday evening in the javelin. Smith threw the javelin 57.94 meters which stands as the seventh-longest distance of the season in NCAA Division III entering Saturday. Eaton also performed exceptionally in the event, setting a new PR with a 48.9-meter throw to take second place in the event.
Boelter placed fifth in the women's high jump on Saturday with a 1.50-meter leap to set a new mark for the Transylvania women's program.
The Pioneers continued their exceptional work in field events as Eaton built upon his success in the javelin with a 47.17-meter launch in the men's hammer throw. Setting a new record for the toss, Eaton finished third overall and second against unattached collegiate athletes.
Reedel also shined on Saturday as the freshman finished with a time of 23.94 seconds in the men's 200 meters, his first-ever collegiate race. Reedel signaled his instant arrival to the sport with a third-place finish in the men's long jump, leaping 6.46 meters. The distance by Reedel also signified a new Transylvania program record. "I think Hakeim in the long jump today was particularly impressive because his high-school PR was 19 feet, 8 inches and he jumped over 21 feet today so that was a massive improvement in his first collegiate meet," analyzed Throckmorton.
One of the most exciting moments of the meet came mid-afternoon in the men's 800-meter race. Coming off a promising cross-country season in the fall, Burnam sized up himself for the first time in an outdoor collegiate track race on Saturday. After biding his time in the middle of the pack over the first 400 meters, Burnam made his move and overtook the group in a flash, winning in 1:57.97, nearly a second and a half ahead of the second-place finisher. "Jacob was a monster today," added Throckmorton. "Seeing him dominate the way he did and run the race so tactically shows how bright of a future he has. Once he gets in more races, we anticipate seeing him drop even more time."
Other notable finishes on Saturday included Shelby Lewis, who finished fifth in the women's pole vault with a 2.90-meter jump, and Jordan Upton, who also notched a fifth-place finish (fourth among collegiate performers) with a 12.74-meter distance in the men's triple jump. Taylor Allen made her collegiate outdoor track debut with a fifth-place finish in the women's 200 meters, crossing the line in 27.40 seconds. Allen followed with an eighth-place showing in the women's 100 meters to finish in 13.18 seconds.
Overall the day not only furnished a plethora of results by way of an offseason's worth of hard work but a sign of more for the Pioneers. "I think we have a lot of the ingredients here to be a national-level program and we're in the process of building that," reflected Throckmorton. Today showed that when kids come here, they can compete against anybody from any level and we can compete with the best teams in our region, so that's an exciting way to start our season. I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do next because our potential exceeds what we did today."
Transylvania returns to competition on Saturday, April 6 in Greencastle, Indiana at the DePauw Invitational.
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