LAWRENCE, Kan.-Oral Roberts was able to claim three individual victories over the weekend as the Golden Eagles competed against collegiate and professional athletes in the historic Kansas Relays.
With all of the victories listed on Jack Whitt’s resume, including an NCAA National Championship and multiple wins at the Texas Relays, there was one gold medal that had eluded ORU's All-American, and the school as a whole. In the history of the school, no ORU athlete had ever won historic pole vault event at the Kansas Relays, an event that has been going on 90 years. Whitt needed just two vaults to end that, winning the event at a height of 17-5.5 (5.32m).
Included in the history of the event is ORU Coach Joe Dial, who set the meet record, earning outstanding performer honors in 1985 and 1987. Dial was also the first high school athlete to earn outstanding performer honors when he did so in 1980.
Whitt was not the only victor in Lawrence, as Samantha Watson earned a win in the 3,000m steeplechase with a season-best time of 10:47.20, edging Sadie Darnell of Southern Illinois by three seconds in what turned out to be a two-person race. The duo beat the remainder of the field by more than 16 seconds.
Morrie Turner rounded out the gold medalists for ORU as he won the long jump by nearly a full foot. Turner used his fifth of six attempts to get out a season-best 24-4.5 (7.43m) which was enough to beat professional Nii Ayi, who had a mark of 23-7.5 (7.20m). The mark also puts him in the top 50 in the nation this season.
Lauren McFarland finished fifth in the women’s high jump, despite clearing the second-best height (12-2.5, 3.72m), losing out on a four-way tie for second due to number of misses.
After posting the sixth fastest qualifying time, the men’s 4x400m relay team improved to finish third overall with a season-best time of 3:15.68. The quartet of John Bradford, Tyler Banks, James Carey and Jeffery Gibson finished behind only Kansas and Nebraska.
Gibson carded sixth in the 400m hurdle event, but was the second-best collegiate runner, finishing in a time of 52.14. Michael Tinsley of Team USA won the event with a world-leading time of 48.77. Michael Stigler of Kansas ran 49.42 and was the only collegiate runner to top Gibson.
The team will split next week as they compete in the Bill Williams/Bob Laptad Open at Missouri Southern as well as the Track-It Buster Invitational at Wichita State.