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Clayton State has high track and field expectations

Jessica Matthews, who does the long and triple jump events, is hoping to make an NCAA Div. II qualifying mark this season. (Special Photo).

Jessica Matthews, who does the long and triple jump events, is hoping to make an NCAA Div. II qualifying mark this season. (Special Photo).

MORROW — As Clayton State heads into its third outdoor track and field meet of the season, Lakers coach Mike Mead is feeling pretty good about his team.

Clayton State will participate in the two-day Emory Invitational starting today at Emory.

During its first meet of the season, the Lakers had several top finishers and a couple of school records were broken.

As Mead and his team look towards this weekend, he said that some participants have a chance at making NCAA Div. II qualifying marks.

“We are looking forward to this meet,” Mead said. “Considering where we were last season, I think we are a little ahead of ourselves this season.”

The Lakers are high on freshman Brianna Heilsnis, who was recognized earlier this week as the AstroTurf Peach Belt Conference Track and Field Athlete of the Week.

Earlier this season, Heilsnis set an NCAA provisional mark in her first career collegiate outdoor meet. The freshman launched the hammer 169-feet, 10 inches at the Mississippi College Season Opener, winning the event, hitting a provisional distance and setting a new Clayton State and Peach Belt record.

She shattered the league’s previous hammer throw record of 46.82 meters by nearly five meters and was seven meters ahead of her nearest competitor. The next day at the Adonica Ferguson Relays, she finished third in the discus with a toss of 37.36m. She became the first conference female track athlete to set an individual NCAA provisional mark this season.

“It has been a good start for her,” Mead said. “We are looking forward to seeing what she can do at Emory.”

A big concern for Mead has been that the school is coming off its annual spring break.

“It will be interesting to see how we perform,” Mead said. “I know a lot of the team has worked out on its own.”

Mead is looking for sophomore Jessica Matthews to continue her successful career. Last season, she made NCAA qualifying time in the triple jump.

The coach said that the men’s team should be in better position this season if they can stay away from the injury bug.

Soccer player Sam Barnsley has joined the team as a sprinter.

Thrower Bryce Rauhof seems to have recovered from a finger injury this fall. He threw over the spring break at a meet in Memphis. He had a discus throw of 170-4 to set a new school mark.

Job Kembio, who ran in the national cross country meet, is competing in the 5,000 and 1,500 events this spring.

“We are trying to figure out what event he will do the best in,” Mead said. “I think he has a good shot at meeting nationals in one of those events.”