In the four years that St. Catharine has participated in the Mid-South Conference Track and Field meet, the Patriots have never been able to bring home a first place finish. But now, at the meet held last weekend at the University of the Cumberlands, the Patriots can claim two champions.
In an impressive showing that came down to the final of the ten events, Troy Mattingly took first place in the decathlon. The other first place finish went to Nicole Peterson who easily outdistanced her competitors in the 100 meter hurdles. And, in doing so, Peterson’s time qualified her for the national NAIA meet to be held at Indiana Wesleyan in May.
Peterson needed a time of 14.90 seconds to qualify for the national meet and just slipped under that standard with a time in the finals of 14.86.
After the preliminaries I was concerned about the girl from Lindsey Wilson (Ruth Olson-Jeffries,” said Peterson a sophomore from Louisville. “She was in a different heat in the prelims but was just ahead of my time.”
But it turned out to be no concern for Peterson as she cruised to the tape. Her nearest competitor was Christiana Harris from Campbellsville who was nearly one second behind at 15.74. Chanee Winfield was third in 15.95 and Olson-Jeffries was fourth in 15.96.
“I started the season running times of 16 and 17 seconds,” added Peterson. “I worked on it a lot and with the help of coach and teammates I was able to get that time down.”
Now Peterson said she will go back to work to get the time down even more to be competitive at the national meet. “I know I can run better, especially if someone is right next to me pushing me. In looking at times around the nation I will need to be in the low 14’s to have a chance.”
For Troy Mattingly, a junior from Louisville, his chance for a decathlon title came in the final event, the 1500 meter run. He entered that race in third place after nine events but turned in a personal record of 4:38 to win the race and edge out two participants that he was trailing.
“I knew I had to beat them but also run a good time in order to get enough points to finish ahead of them,” said Mattingly. “They stayed with me the first two laps but then I was able to pull away.”
Mattingly finished the decathlon with 5277 points, a personal record. That put him just 25 points ahead of runner-up Kevin Ping from Cumberlands and 73 points ahead of third place finisher Andrew Deason from Bethel.
“I doubt that there are many conferences, if any, in the nation where first and third place are separated by just 73 points,” said St. Catharine coach Blake Jones. “Troy really picked up the pace in the last 600 meters. I knew he had to finish at least in 4:45 and he got it done with a personal best.”
Within the decathlon Mattingly set personal record in the 100 meter hurdles, the 1500 meter run, the javelin, the long jump and the100 meter dash. But unlike Peterson, Mattingly must wait now to see if he qualifies for the national meet. He currently ranks 24th nationally with his 5277 points. The top 16 will go to Indiana Wesleyan but if eight or more decathletes decide to go in single events, Mattingly will make the cut. He is the first male, individual or team, to bring home a conference title for St. Catharine.
“I hope he gets there because he can score many more points than he did at the conference,” added Jones. “He had a bad pole vault in the rain and didn’t do nearly as well as he usually does in the discus.”
In the team results the women scored 53 points which put them in eighth place in the nine team field. Peterson finished second in the 400 meter hurdles. In the javelin throw Porsha Ellison Megan Brown and Lindsey Vinson finished second, fifth and sixth respectively.
In the high jump Ellison finished third and Rebecca just was sixth. Just was seventh in the long jump and Samantha Osborn was fifth in the pole vault. In the heptathlon Michelle Dunaway was sixth and Lindsey Vinson was seventh.
The Patriot men also finished in eighth place. In addition to Mattingly’s first place finish in the decathlon, he also placed sixth in the pole vault. Ed Lucey was sixth in the 400 meter hurdles. Tyler dunn was eighth in the triple jump and Jacob williams finished eighth in the shot put.
The Patriots will be back on the track Friday in the Billy Hayes Invitational at Indiana University.