The Butler track and field team opened the 2016 outdoor season with 17 first-place finishes - including a new school record in the men's 4x100-meter relay - at the Butch Reynolds Invitational, held at BG Products Veterans Sports Complex on Thursday.
In addition to breaking the men's 4x100 relay school record, the Grizzlies qualified 18 individual athletes in 11 different events, including two relays, for the NJCAA Outdoor National Championships.
With a blistering time of 39.77 seconds, the 4x100m relay team of Akeem Sirleaf, Xavier Atkins, Eli Hall-Thompson and Lamarion Arnold broke the Grizzlies' school record and set a meet record in the event. The group broke the mark of 39.80, set by William McCaskill, Ivory Williams, Kenny Wilson and Willie Hordge back in 2005.
Arnold and Sirleaf also qualified for nationals in the men's 200-meter dash, finishing 1-2 in the race. Arnold set the meet record with a time of 20.73 seconds, which barely edged Sirleaf at 20.76.
Sophomore Ona Giles had a pair of national qualifying marks by winning both the women's 100 and 200-meter dash. Giles set a meet record in the 100 with a time of 12.04 seconds, then followed later in the day with a 24.53 time to win the 200m event.
Butler also had two hurdlers qualify for nationals, en-route to winning their respective events. Freshman Jasmine Frazier won the women's 100-meter hurdles with a time of 14.17 seconds, while freshman Jhibri Greer took first in the men's 110-meter hurdles at 14.75
In field events, the Grizzlies had seven individuals in four events reach national qualifying marks.
Freshman Landon Cuskelly won the men's high jump, clearing the bar at 2.16 meters (7 feet, 1 inch), whle Mason Buckmaster was runner-up at 2.01 (6 feet, 7 inches). Valeriya Kostiuk took first in the women's high jump, with a clearance of 1.66 meters (5 feet, 5.25 inches). Along with qualifying for nationals, both Cuskelly and Kostiuk set new meet records with their marks.
Butler freshman Madison McLaughlin was the winner in the women's pole vault, while sophomore Danae Bina was second as both vaulters cleared 3.00 meters (9 feet, 10 inches). McLaughlin edged Bina by clearing 2.85 on her first attempt, while Bina went over on her second attempt, which resulted in McLaughlin winning the event. Both cleared 3.00 on their second attempt.
In the javelin, sophomore Kavan Mark, who placed fifth at nationals last year in the javelin, finished second with a qualfying throw of 54.99 meters (180 feet, 5 inches). Freshman teammate Kendal McGuire also made the national mark by taking sixth at 49.23 (161 feet, 6 inches).
Freshman Joshua Sharp set the meet record in the men's long jump, with his best leap coming in the finals at 6.65 meters (21 feet, 10 inches). In the men's triple jump, freshman Mason Buckmaser took first at 13.39 meters.
Other first-place winners for the Grizzly men included Emmanuel Biwott (3,000m steeplechase, 10:50.02), Shevon Blair (1,500m run, 4:10.62), James Hambrick (400m dash, 49.14) and Nolan Hesse (5,000m run, 15:54.67).
Both the Butler men and women took first in the 4x400-meter relay event. The women's relay team of Loremus, Ariente' Sims, Cheyenne Ponder and Kalynn Simpson ran 4:45.19, while the men's team of Emmanuel Mwewa, Ismael Ramirez, Sirleaf and Jaquez President crossed the line at 3:25.10.
Butler will next compete at the Emporia Spring Open at Emporia State Invitational on Friday, March 25.