When it comes to running, there’s always one thing that can be counted on.
As long as Eric Putnam, Ann Marie Allen and Blaike Smith have their hands on runners and throwers, the cross country and track and field programs at Shawnee State will be competitive.
The women’s indoor track and field program at Shawnee State put together a strong season, with Jessica Price finishing 10th at the NAIA National Championships in the 5,000-meter run and Price — along with Jessica Cook — earning Mid-South Conference honors for their performances at February’s MSC Championships in Defiance.
Price posts banner year
Looking to prove herself as one of the best runners in the country in 2020, Price did just that at every stop.
A stout young talent who won two events between indoor and outdoor track and field in 2018 — including a Mid-South Conference Outdoor Track Championship in the 4-by-800 meter relay — and a national qualifier in the 2019 NAIA National Distance Medley Relay alongside Cook, Brooke Smith and Marissa Smith en route to obtaining a ninth-place national finish, Price tore up the track on an individual realm in 2020.
In the very first meet of the season, the Marietta Open, Price set a NAIA National Standard time with her mark of 5:15.91 in the one-mile en route to finishing second at the event.
Price then added in two more second-place finishes over the next two weeks — at the Otterbein Snowglobe Open and the SPIRE Midwest Track and Field Open while setting a NAIA National ‘B’ Standard in the 3,000-meter run at Otterbein (10:23.95) and a NAIA National ‘A’ Standard mark of 17:58.54 in the 5,000-meter run at SPIRE.
Continuing on her torrid pace, Price posted finishes of fourth in the 3,000-meter run (10:23.95) at the Akron Invitational, and a fifth in the 5,000-meter run with a 17:58.05 at the same event.
She capped off the pre-national championship phase of the schedule with an outstanding showing at the Mid-South Conference Championships, winning the mile (5:20.31) and the 3,000-meter run (11:02.80) and finishing second in the 5,000 (18:29.32).
Her first individual appearance at the NAIA National Championships was capped with an eighth-place showing in the preliminary round, where Price ran her best-ever time of 17:41.86 in the 5,000 to qualify for the national finals.
In the finals, Price ran a 18:18.05 to finish 10th, capping off a season where the Proctorville native finished inside the top-five in eight of her nine indoor track races and inside the top-10 in all nine events.
Cook shows off rising talent
While Price had a banner year inside the women’s indoor track and field program, so too did Cook.
During the 2020 indoor season, Cook won four events at the following meets:
800 meter run, Marietta Open — 2:38.14
800 meter run, Ohio Wesleyan Valentine’s Open — 2:27.81
One Mile, Ohio Wesleyan Valentine’s Open — 5:35.74
800 meter run, Mid-South Conference Championships — 2:24.94
In addition to her four victories, Cook also strung together two additional top-five finishes and lowered her 800 meter run time throughout the 2020 season, ultimately dropping her mark by nearly 20 full seconds to a 2:24.92 from a 2:44.64.
The Pomeroy native ultimately added in four top-10s while competing in the 4-by-400 meter relay and, at the MSC Championships, the 600 meter dash.
Oehlers strikes with a win,
Brown posts strong MSC run
However, Price and Cook weren’t alone in aiding the efforts of SSU’s women’s indoor track program.
Names such as Tori Oehlers — who was one of the top competitors for Shawnee State’s sprinters and jumpers — along with Jozi Brown, rose to the occasion.
Brown, who finished third in the mile at the Otterbein Snowglobe Open (5:40.65), proved to be outstanding in both the 3,000 and 5,000 meter runs.
In the 5,000, Brown finished third by running a 19:12.89, then added in an 11:13.88 in the 3,000 to finish fifth overall for her best event showing of the winter season.
Oehlers, meanwhile, proved to be strong in the 60 meter hurdles all year long.
The West Virginia native ran a 10:19 in the finals to finish fourth at the Otterbein Snowglobe, won the 60 meter hurdles at the Ohio Wesleyan University Valentine’s Open, and added in a fifth-place finish at the MSC Championship by posting a personal-best 9.58 at the event.
Soccer athletes take part
Not shy about challenging themselves, freshmen soccer players Hannah Marzolf, Sydnie Jenkins and Nikki van Wees all contributed to Shawnee State’s scoring in 2020 on the women’s indoor side of the spectrum.
Marzolf participated in the shot put, van Wees specialized in the 200 and 400 meter dashes, and Jenkins specialized in the 400 and 800 meter dashes.
All three have three years of eligibility remaining.
For more information on SSU Bears Athletics, visit www.ssubears.com or visit the Twitter and Facebook pages at https://twitter.com/SSUBears and https://www.facebook.com/SSUBears. For more information on how to join the SSU Bear Club, visit https://givetossu.com/bear-club.