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Cougars Shine Day One of Championships

Nichyria Byrd, John Barnes
Nichyria Byrd, John Barnes

CHARLESTON, Ill. – SIUE track and field completed day one of the Ohio Valley Conference Championships at Eastern Illinois Friday night. The Cougars had multiple top-5 finishes including two champions with John Barnes and Nichyria ByrdLizzie Virgl broke the SIUE school record in the women's weight throw.

Barnes hit a personal record (61 feet, 8.75 inches) in his first weight throw attempt and that mark ended up winning the event. Nick Matthews (61-3.25) placed second in the weight throw and Austin Lynch (57-8.50) finished fifth.  

"John surprised us all," Head Coach Scott Block said. "He picked up the weight throw for the first time this September and for him to win today is incredible. John, Nick and Austin all did so well today, I couldn't be happier."

Byrd was champion in the women's long jump with a PR leap of 19-3.25. That mark is second best in SIUE school history.

"Nichyria earned this win today," Block added. "She has been grinding for so long and to see her win is so exciting."

In the women's weight throw, Virgl earned second place while breaking the SIUE school record with a mark of 58-5.50.

"Lizzie waited until her final throw of her last indoor meet of her career to break the school record, better late than never," Block said. "I am extremely proud of her."

The women's DMR team (Aly GoffJalea PaslayKassidy Dexheimer and Haley Miller) placed fourth with a time of 12:23.03, earning points.

For the men, Matt O'Connor finished second (1:55.92) in his 800m heat, qualifying him for finals. In the 200m, Nylo Clarke (22.22) and DeVonte Tincher (22.71) will move onto the finals after finishing fourth and fifth respectively.

Multiple other Cougars time/marks qualified them for finals Saturday. Second day action is set to begin at 9 a.m. at the Lantz Indoor Fieldhouse at Eastern Illinois.