WICHITA, Kan. - Junior Kiera Washpun picked up the second individual title of the past two days for the Loyola University Chicago track & field teams this evening on the second day of the 2017 Missouri Valley Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Wichita, Kan.
"The second day of the MVC Championships was one for the record books," Loyola head track & field coach Bob Thurnhoffer said. "For the second day in a row, we crowned an MVC Champion. Kiera took home the league crown in the long jump with a wind legal leap of 19-11.50. She came in as the underdog and walked away with the title. It's incredible when you see someone put that kind of effort, focus and determination into getting better and having it pay off."
Washpun laid claim to the first individual league title of her career as she finished first in the long jump. The Iowa City, Iowa native, who took third in the event at the league indoor meet back in February, used a wind legal leap of 19-11.50 (6.08m) on her first attempt of the day to edge out Amanda McClain (19-09.00; 6.02m) for the top spot on the leaderboard. On the men's side of the event, freshman Eric Burns notched a top jump of 23-10.75 (7.28m) on his final attempt to finish fifth overall for the Maroon & Gold.
On the track, a handful of Ramblers punched tickets to Sunday's finals. In the sprints, senior Jaz Hayes clocked a time of 10.50 to finish second in his heat of the 100m dash and claim an automatic qualifying spot. Senior Andrew Berman, also competing in the 100m dash preliminaries, turned in a personal-best time of 10.73 to move to fifth all-time at Loyola in the event as he narrowly missed out on a spot in the finals. Junior Samuel Urben checked in with a personal-best of his own in the 400m dash as he raced across in 48.20 to earn an at-large berth in the event final.
Loyola's 800m run duo of redshirt senior Jake Mazanke and sophomore Kevin White both turned in impressive performances in their respective heats of the event. Mazanke coasted to a win in the opening heat in 1:51.84, while White matched him with a victory of his own in the second heat at 1:52.66. Freshman Connor McCue fell just two-tenths of a second shy of earning an at-large spot in the finals as he posted a time of 1:52.95.
On the women's side of the track events, the pairing of sophomore Natajah Simmons and freshman Denee' Lawrence turned in personal-best showings in the 100m dash preliminaries. Simmons broke the 12-second barrier for the first time as she surged across in 11.91 to move into second on Loyola's all-time outdoor record board in the event. Lawrence capped off a strong debut campaign in Rogers Park with a personal-best time of 12.06 that further solidifies her spot in fourth on the all-time board.
"We also moved several more athletes into the finals tomorrow," Thurnhoffer continued. "Sam got through in the 400m, Jaz moved on the in 100m and Kevin and Jake both qualified in the 800m. Natajah, Denee' and Andrew also turned in some notable performances in the 100m. It'll be a busy and extremely exciting final day of the MVC Championships tomorrow!"
Sunday's action at the 2017 Missouri Valley Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships will kick off at 11:30 a.m. The Valley on ESPN3 will provide live coverage beginning at 12:55 p.m.