EATON, Ohio — In athletics – and in life – success is often determined by how well one performs under pressure.
Based on how the University of Rio Grande women’s track & field team closed out the River States Conference Championships on Friday afternoon, success is bound to follow each and every athlete long after their days of being a member of the RedStorm.
Down to the final event of the two-day competition and needing a 1-2-3-5 finish in the discus throw, Rio Grande took the top four positions to rally past Point Park University and claim the team title at Eaton High School.
The RedStorm erased a 23.5-point deficit and edged the rival Pioneers, 171.5-169, in the final team totals. Cincinnati Christian University finished third with 106 points.
Freshman Sierra Cress (Greenville, OH) won the discus with a toss of 37.53m, while junior Natalie Seeberg (Urbana, OH) was second at 36.25m, freshman Samantha Miller (Greensprings, OH) took third at 36.21m and freshman Beyonce Bobbitt (West Milton, OH) was fourth with a heave covering 35.56m.
The quartet combined for 29 points in the event, offsetting a fifth-place finish and four additional points to the deficit from Point Park’s Jasmine Wicks.
Cress’ victory was one of her four Top 10 outings. She finished third in both the hammer throw (41.03m) and javelin throw (27.38m) and was seventh in the shot put (10.45m) en route to being named Field Athlete of the Year.
Junior Chanavier Robinson (Ravenna, OH) earned Newcomer of the Year honors after finishing first in the 100-meter dash (12.46), second in the long jump (5.31m) and fourth in the 200-meter dash (26.25).
Robinson was also part of Rio’s 4×100 relay team, which finished first in a time of 49.84. Other members of the squad included sophomore Rachael Barber (Ashland, KY), freshman Sophie Wright (Akron, OH) and sophomore Amirah Strauther (Pickerington, OH).
Bobbitt added three other Top 10 finishes for the RedStorm, winning the shot put with a new meet record mark of 12.62m, placing fifth in the hammer throw at 39.97m and finishing 10th in the javelin with an effort of 18.87m.
Senior Lucy Williams (Athens, OH) also set a new meet record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 11:32.22. She also finished third in the 5,000-meter run after crossing in 18:45.01.
Fellow senior Taylor Grubb (Thornville, OH) accounted for Rio’s remaining individual title, taking first place in the 5,000-meter race walk with a time of 38:49.45.
Rio Grande had 13 other Top 10 individual finishes, while two other relay units posted Top 10 outings.
The RedStorm’s other notable showings came from Strauther, who was second in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 14.92, third in the high jump with an effort of 1.35m and 10th in the 100-meter dash with a time of 13.52; junior Kelsey Miller (Georgetown,OH), who finished second in the 5,000-meter race walk with a time of 39:35.81; Seeberg, who was second in the hammer with a toss of 41.25m and ninth in the javelin with a throw of 19.72m; freshman Abilena Sullivan (Chillicothe, OH), who was third in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 12:30.30 and fifth in the 400 hurdles with a mark of 1:13.12; sophomore Taylor Tackett (Hillsboro, OH), who was fifth in the 400-meter dash with a time of 1:03.46; Barber, who was sixth in the 100-meter dash at 13.21 and ninth in the 200-meter dash in a time of 27.16; Wright, who took eighth place in the 200-meter dash with a time of 28.31; and senior Alexis Johnson-Schoolcraft (Mercerville, OH), who was eighth in the hammer throw with a toss of 32.91m.
Rio’s 4×800 relay team – comprised of Sullivan, Grubb, Miller and Williams – was fourth in a time of 10:17.72, while the 4×400 relay squad – which was made up of the quartet of Barber, Wright, Sullivan and Tackett – was sixth in a time of 4:27.01.
Veteran Rio Grande head coach Bob Willey was named the league’s Coach of the Year, while Point Park University super senior Anna Shields was named Track Athlete of the Year.
Barber was Rio’s representative on the Champions of Character Team.
The RedStorm returns to action on May 4 as part of the Mountaineer Open in Morgantown, W.Va.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.