Joplin - The Pittsburg State University men's indoor track & field team overcame adversity as well as nine conference foes to claim the 2014 MIAA Indoor Championship Sunday (Mar. 2) at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.
The Gorillas edged second-place Missouri Southern State University by just 1.5 points, 130.5 to 129, to capture their first indoor league title in 19 years and the program's third MIAA indoor title overall. The win snapped a six-year title run by the University of Central Missouri, which finished in fourth place with 77.2 points.
Pitt State, which has won the last two MIAA outdoor titles, broke its two-decade indoor drought desipte losing the squads inspirational leader, team captain and high point scorer Keenan Soles at mid-season. Soles, the No. 1 ranked long jumper in NCAA Division II and a potential point scorer in the triple jump and the short sprints, suffered a season-ending knee injury at the Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational the first weekend in February.
The Gorillas turned to a host of athletes to offset Soles' point scoring ability to bring home the elusive indoor tite.
Senior Adam Volkert, another team captain, won the mile run (4:16.21) early in the afternoon Sunday, then took to the track again to pick up four key points with a fifth-place finish in the 3,000 meters (8:40.71) in the next-to-last event of the meet.
Junior Andre Sanders captured the MIAA title in the 60 meter hurdles (8.07) Sunday, while a quartet of shot putters combined to score 18 points early in the day. Freshman Bo Farrow placed second in the discpline (53-6.25), senior Cody Holland was fourth (52.2.75), sophomore Garrett Appier finished sixth (51-8.5) and junior Luke Wilson placed seventh (51-1.75).
Junior Jeff Piepenbrink came through with the MIAA title in the pole vault (16-10). He has the top mark in Division II in the discipline this season. Junior Jordan Peters secured an MIAA runner-up in the 600 yard run (1:14.11).
Junior Steven Mann filled the void left by Soles' injury, earning All-MIAA honors in the long jump with a third-place finish (23-8.75). Senior Kyle Utsey also placed sixth in the discipline (22-11).
Senior James Carter III entered the finals of the 800 meters seeded eighth but he raced to a fifth-place finish (1:56.21). His three-point improvement gave Pitt State a critical 125.5 to 102 lead at the time.
Southern made its push with a 15-point effort in the 200 meters – Jeff Fraley won the race and Erron Hailey finished fourth for the Lions – closing the gap to 125.5 to 117.
Volkert then kept the Gorillas in front with his fifth-place effort in the 3,000 meters. MSSU's Eric Schott picked up eight points in the race with a runner-up finish and William Rush picked up a point by finishing eighth.
It all added up to a 129.5 to 126 Pitt State edge going to the 4x400m relay. MSSU finished second in its heat, and sixth overall, to pick up three points, but Pitt State relay team of Marquel Nickens, Ryam Ramler, Jason Crow and Jordan Peters managed an eighth place finish (3:21.92) to pick up a point a seal the win.
The Gorillas held an eight-point lead, 47-39, following Saturday's action, getting field event victories by Luke Wilson in the weight throw (58-9.5) and Marquise Cushon in the triple jump (49-7). Piepenbrink also finished as the MIAA runner-up in the heptathlon (5141 pts) and the distance medley relay of Carter, Nickens, Peters and Volkert finished third in 10:24.05. Holland also placed third in the weight throw (55-9.25).
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