WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.—The Tusculum University men's and women's indoor track & field teams competed at the two-day Camel City Invitational, hosted at the JDL Fast Track Friday and Saturday.
Nicole McMillen finished second and broke her own school and South Atlantic Conference record in the women's 5,000 meters on Friday, while Widchard Guervil was the lone Division II runner to qualify for the finals of the 60 meters after placing fifth in preliminaries.
The Pioneers will return to competition on Saturday, Feb. 22 in the one-day USC Open at the University of South Carolina, in their final meet before the SAC Championships back at the JDL Fast Track on Saturday, Feb. 29 and Sunday, March 1.
McMillen and Lindsay Billings of Duke battled for the lead in the 5K from the outset, with McMillen up by more nearly eight seconds at the midway point. McMillen's lead dropped to three seconds entering the final 1,000 meters, and the two were running even with three laps remaining. Billings pulled ahead by a little under a second with 400 to go, and ran her fastest lap after the bell to set a personal record of 16:49.22, breaking the meet record of 16:53.70 set in 2017. McMillen crossed the line in 16:53.86, knocking 7 1/2 seconds off her previous school and conference record of 17:01.33 set at the Gamecock Opener on Jan. 18.
Her converted time of 16:46.16 ranks McMillen seventh in the latest DII rankings in the 5,000 meters, and she currently ranks seventh in the 3000 meters on the national performance list with a time of 9:39.38 set Jan. 31 at the Carolina Challenge.
In the 400 meters, Hachlaine Petit finished eighth overall in 58.46 seconds, ranking her seventh on the school's all-time top 10 list. Ke'Lah McMiller was 15th in the 400 at 59.43 seconds which places her 10th on the Tusculum all-time top 10. Gabrielle Beckett was clocked at 2:27.05 in the 800 meters, the second-fastest time in program history behind her 2:24.81 at the Gamecock Opener.
Alyssa Farmer posted her second-best career mark in the weight throw, hitting 12.38 meters (40 feet, 7 1/2 inches), and had her fifth-best performance in the shot put at 11.56 meters (37 feet, 11 1/4 inches).
Guervil, a Division II All-American in the 60 meters in 2018, qualified for the finals by finishing fifth overall in preliminaries with a time of 6.89 seconds, just off the NCAA provisional mark of 6.87 seconds. In the finals, Guervil was clocked at 6.91 seconds, just two-tenths behind 2012 Olympian Jeff Demps who won the race in 6.71 seconds. Guervil also competed in the 200 meters and finished fifth overall in 22.76 seconds, with Thurlow Wilkins in tenth place at 22.95 seconds.
In the 400 meters, Jontavus Walker posted the fifth-best time in program history at 51.61 seconds, followed by David Saruni whose mark of 51.98 seconds ranks sixth in school history. Antonio Aparicio ran 2:01.61 in the 800 meters to move into fifth place on the all-time Tusculum top 10, while in the mile Kyler Hodges was timed at 4:31.81 for sixth-best in school history. Hodges ran 9:03.29 in the 3000 meters which is eighth-best in school history.
Will Cronin ran in the 5000 meters for the Pioneers and finished sixth overall in 15:01.31, the second-best time in program history behind his mark of 14:54.28 set at the Gamecock Opener. Tusculum's 4x400 relay of Saruni, Kyle Stanley, Aparicio and Walker ran 3:31.50 to rank fifth in program history.
Evan Grooms had the third-best weight throw in school history with a mark of 11.83 meters (38 feet, 9 3/4 inches), while in the shot put both Alex Higgins (12.28 meters/40 feet, 3 1/2 inches) and Mike Peppin (11.54 meters/37 feet, 10 1/2 inches) had career-best throws for the Pioneers.
VMI WINTER RELAYS
Several Tusculum runners competed at the VMI Winter Relays, with Emmi Hulse finishing 13th in the women's 3,000 meters at 11:13.11. In the men's 3,000 meters, Alex Perez was 13th in 9:17.64 while Carson Walls was the Pioneers' top finisher in the 5,000 meters at 15:41.98, ranking him sixth all-time at Tusculum. Taylor Tupps was timed at 15:56.68 and moved into ninth place on the Pioneer top 10 list in the 5K.