GREENVILLE, Ill. — The Park women’s track and field team made history at the American Midwest Conference meet on Friday, April 26.
The Pirates, who have finished as the AMC runners-up four times, compiled 191 points for their first team title in program history. Park topped runner-up Missouri Baptist, who scored 174 points.
With the historic win, Park head coach Brian Renshaw and assistant Byron Von Leggett were honored with the AMC Coaching Staff of the Year honor.
Two newcomers to the Park program aided the first-place finish. Junior Imani Hutchinson was awarded with the AMC Newcomer of the Year honor, and Bailey Turner was named the league’s top freshman for their strong showings.
Hutchinson, who transferred in from Pittsburg State before this school year, won the 200 and 100-meter titles. A Raytown, Mo., native, Hutchinson finished the 200 in 25.06 and the 100 in 12.01.
In both sprinting events, Hutchinson led 1-2-3 finishes for Park. Shannel Watkins was runner-up in the 200 in 25.29 and third place in the 100 (12.60), while Brittany Wills was second in the 100 (12.38) and third in the 200 (26.43). Senior Areka Hanson added a runner-up performance in the 400 (59.95).
Sophomore Anna Zirpolo’s won the 5K race walk, finishing in 37 minutes. Park’s 4x100 team also won on the track, completing the relay in 48.70. Wills, Turner and freshmen Terriane Smith and Shannel Watkins all played a role in the win.
Junior Rachel Franklin also played a strong role in Park’s win, coming in second in the steeplechase, third in the 1,500 meters and contributing to the Pirates’ 4x800 squad that took second. She teamed up with freshmen Lilly Abdulla, Jena Hahlbeck and Anne Thomas to finish with a time of 10:13.09.
Hahlbeck, who also was third in the 400, prepped at Park Hill and Thomas is a Parkville native who attended Lutheran High School.
Turner, a product of Olathe, Kan., was victorious in the long jump with a series-best mark of 19 feet, 2 1/2 inches. She placed third in the triple jump with a leap of 37-4 1/2.
Also in the field events, senior Brittany Karst claimed the javelin title and Aaliyah Brown won the shot put. Karst had a series-best toss of 115-7, while Brown put the shot 44-0.5. Brown also took third in the hammer (140-9).
Sophomore Michela Lemons was runner-up in the discus with a heave of 121-9.
Elsewhere in the women’s AMC standings, William Woods was third (152), Columbia fourth (143.5) and Hannibal-LaGrange fifth (54). The Pirates most recently finished as conference runners-up in 2017.
MEN TAKE FIFTH
Nicholas Rotich and Cirr Davis led the Pirates to a fifth-place finish in the men’s standings with 80 points.
Rotich, a senior, registered two individual titles — 1,500 meters and 3,000 steeplechase. The Kenya native won the 1,500 in 4:03.30 and the steeplechase in 9:51.43.
Davis, a sophomore from Kansas City, recorded an automatic qualifying mark of 48-2 ½ to win the triple jump and a 21-7 ½ for second in the long jump.
The Pirates turned in two runner-up finishes in relays — the 4x800 and 4x400. Rotich combined with teammates Jack Lindgren, Joshua Goodloe and Brendan Bridoy finished the 4x800 in 8:07.42, and Davis and Lindgren teamed up with Danny Tucker and Brandon Davis to complete the 4x400 in 3:25.74.
Columbia dominated the men’s field with 239 points, finishing 105 points ahead of second-place Missouri Baptist. William Woods (103) placed third and Lindenwood-Belleville (85) was fourth.
Park will send representatives to the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships May 23-25 in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
Turner is making quite the impression in her first year with the Park track and field team.
Turner, who prepped at Olathe East, has captured three AMC weekly honors and set a new program record in the first month of the outdoor track and field season ahead of the conference meet.
Turner jumped 38-7 ½ in the triple jump, setting a new Park record at the 92nd annual Kansas Relays on Saturday, April 20 in Lawrence, Kan. She placed eighth in the event that featured Division I, D-II, NAIA and NJCAA talent.
Turner’s mark was second amongst NAIA competitors, as Jayda Cooper of the University of St. Mary jumped 38-10.50 to finish sixth. Anigbata Grace Chinonyel of Cloud County CC won the event with a mark of 43-3.25.
Turner gained her third AMC athlete of the week honor on Monday, April 22, for her record-breaking performance at KU. She also won the March 28 and April 1 league honors.
Hutchinson also fared well in the KU Relays. The four-time AMC track athlete of the week placed fifth in the 100 meters with a time of 12.01, finishing behind two D-I participants, a JUCO and another NAIA runner. Octavia Cato of Butler CC won the event in 11.51.
Cirr Davis, a sophomore jumps specialist who prepped at Grandview High School, claimed AMC honors on April 22 for his efforts at the KU Relays.
Davis, a Barton County CC transfer, qualified for the NAIA national meet with a 47-10 in the triple jump, placing him eighth in the KU Relays event.
The Park men finished the volleyball season ranked No. 6 in the postseason NAIA top-10 poll, it was announced Wednesday, April 24.
The Pirates went 21-6 overall and 9-3 in conference play this season, finishing the year with a sweep of Saint Xavier University in pool play in the inaugural NAIA Men’s Volleyball National Championship in Des Moines, Iowa.
Park was eliminated from the national tourney after going 1-2 in pool play, falling to Grand View 3-1 and Missouri Baptist 3-0. Missouri Baptist was responsible for four of the Pirates’ six losses this season.
Senior Andrea Maggio and sophomore Felipe Guirau were named honorable mention all-americans in the NAIA/AVCA poll.
Benedictine Mesa claimed the top spot in the poll after claiming the first national championship. Missouri Baptist was third and Grand View was fourth.
ON THE DIAMOND
The Park baseball team went 2-4 in their final four AMC games of the season, providing just enough to secure the eighth and final seed in the conference tournament to be played May 1-4 at Joe Becker Stadium in Joplin, Mo.
The Pirates, who finished the regular season at 21-21 and 12-8 in AMC play, beat out three others for the final tournament berth, finishing three games ahead of William Woods, who missed out with a 9-21 league mark.
Park opens the double-elimination tournament against top-seeded Freed-Hardeman at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 1.
Senior pitcher Ian Torres tossed a complete-game victory as part of Park’s doubleheader split with No. 7 Freed-Hardeman on Friday, April 19.
Torres allowed three earned runs in nine innings of work, his first nine-inning complete-game effort of the season and second of his career to lead the Pirates to a 6-4 win after falling 15-0 in the first game of the twinbill.
Freed-Hardeman secured the series win with an 11-3 victory on Saturday, April 20.
Torres, a second-year Park player out of Southwestern CC, scattered 10 hits, walked one and struck out five while allowing four earned runs. Following the performance, he owned a 4-2 record and a 3.35 ERA.
Bryce Dye went 3-for-3 with two doubles and three RBI in the Pirates’ victory on April 19. Tony Dougan and Wes Jacobs each had three hits.
Park honored its 10 seniors on April 20 — David Paffenroth, Will Long, Lane Noel, Damian Vela, Jacobs, Sammie Hargrave, Torres, Jackson Longhofer, KJ Courtney and Jacob Brandvold.
The AMC softball postseason tournament will go on this spring without Park for the first time since the Pirates joined the conference ahead of the 2009-2010 school year.
And they missed out by a short margin.
Park finished the 2019 season with an overall record of 10-21 and a league mark of 10-14, finishing one game behind No. 8 seed Missouri Baptist. Hannibal-LaGrange also had a 10-14 league record.
Despite missing on the AMC tournament, the Pirates won four of their last five league games, albeit two coming via forfeits to Harris-Stowe State.
Park failed to overcome a 1-5 start to the conference season. After the tough start, the Pirates swept Stephens College to move to 3-5, but Park then went on a six-game losing streak that stretched through the end of March.
The Pirates split their season finale and Senior Day doubleheader with William Woods, winning the opener 7-1 before an 8-0 loss in the finale.
Senior Madison Klein hit a three-run home run to push Park ahead 5-1 in the second inning of Game 1. She finished 2-for-4 with three RBI. Senior Kaylin Brooks also went 2-for-4.
Klein and Brooks were part of Park’s four-player senior class that was honored, including Hailey Costello and Kendal Cox.
Jonathan Graf and Leeah Shipley won medalist honors in Park’s home invitational, the Virginia McCoy Intercollegiate, on Wednesday, April 23 at The Deuce at The National Golf Club of Kansas City.
Graf led Park to a first-place finish with a two-day total of 140 (72-68), sharing the top honors with Spencer Lebarbera of Central Baptist College.
Shipley fired a 159 to top the nine-golfer field, besting runner-up Lexi Clary of Avila by eight strokes. Team scores were not kept.
Savannah Oesterle finished third with a 172, while Lexi Grego was fourth with a 175, Faith Beaty sixth (183), Kiereceten Nelson seventh (198) and Madison Rogers eighth (202).
In the men’s event, Wes Buntenbach finished third with a 141, while Matt Percy was fourth with a 143. Evan Shartzer was sixth (145), Zach Spencer was eighth (151) and Dakota Soukop was ninth (152).
Buntenbach, a senior from Klemme, Iowa, has captured two AMC weekly honors this season. He took medalist honors at the Battle at Big Creek on April 15, leading the Pirates to a first-place team finish. Buntenbach earned his first league honors with a runner-up finish at the William Woods Invite on April 2.
The two squads compete at the AMC Championships May 6-7 at Dalhousie Golf Club in Cape Girardeau, Mo.