Chaney and Zinchenko set personal bests
In the sporting world, there are nearly as many coaching types as there are teams. There's the proverbial player's coach; there are the stoic coaches that rarely let a word of praise escape their lips, and then there are coaches whose vocabulary consists of entirely of four-letter words, among others. Normally men's track Head Coach Jon Warren (Jones '88) makes a point to laud his athletes, bringing forth optimistic views on nearly every situation in every event, but for once, Warren strongly downplayed the magnitude of success of an Owl, namely redshirt sophomore Clayton Chaney, who set a personal best of 5,204 points in the heptathlon in his winning effort at the Frank Sevigne Classic held at the University of Nebraska. "He had an OK seven events as far as I'm concerned," Warren said. "A personal best was good for him, but that was by no means the best he could do."
Chaney echoed his coach's cautious comments, realizing that the more important meets still lay ahead.
"I was pleased with my performance this past weekend, knowing that it is still early in the season," Chaney said. "I'm confident that I can better my score when the conference meet rolls around and if things are going my way, I can increase my score by a few hundred points."
Chaney grabbed a hefty first-place lead after the first day of competition on Friday and never looked back, placing first in the 60-meter dash and shot put and second in the long jump and high jump. The story on Saturday was no different, with Chaney taking a victory in the 60-meter hurdles by eight hundredths of a second and tying for first in the pole vault. With only the 1,000-meter dash remaining, Chaney would have needed a horrific performance to botch his 169-point lead, but no such tragedy occurred, and Chaney cruised around the track in 2:48, enough to preserve a 113-point victory over the University of Nebraska's Teran Walford.
Chaney was not the only Owl to compete in the heptathlon, as freshman Justin Gross took sixth place, despite no-heighting in the high jump and pole vault, the latter being an event totally foreign to Gross. Gross finished second behind Chaney in the 60-meter dash, third in the shot put and first in the long jump portion of the heptathlon, jumping 23 feet - almost a foot and a half further than the closest competitor. Warren talked about Gross' foray into the heptathlon.
"Justin's been a real asset to us this season, and we wanted to see what he could do in the heptathlon," Warren said. "The pole vault isn't something he's experienced with, but he's quick enough and is obviously a good enough jumper to have a good chance at doing this in the future."
Due to hazardous winter conditions last Friday, only the first flight carrying Owls was able to take off, meaning that just five Rice athletes were present in Lincoln, Neb. Senior Connor Hayes did not have a meet to remember, false starting in the 60-meter hurdles and pulling up short in the 600-yard dash due to a hamstring tweak. Sophomore Donte Moore had a personal best time of 22.30 in the 200-meter dash.
Returning to the Bayou City, several Rice runners and throwers took part in the Howie Ryan All-Comer's Meet at Yeoman Fieldhouse on the campus of the University of Houston. The highlight of the meet was junior Alex Zinchenko throwing for 55 feet, seven inches in the shot put to take second place, shattering his personal best in the process. Senior Will Meyers finished ninth with a throw of 47 feet, six inches. Warren talked about Zinchenko's rise this season.
"The good things this weekend were Clayton and Alex, who's really just reaching his stride and getting his rhythm down," Warren said. "Will's really close to getting up to the top; everything just has to come together when it matters."
The 3,000- and 5,000-meter runners were given a weekend off, but freshman John Cavallo, redshirt sophomore Gabe Cuadra and redshirt junior Michael Trejo will take part in the 3,000-meter run tomorrow at the Texas A&M Challenge in College Station, Texas while junior Matt Carey will run in the 5,000-meter run. The middle distance runners had solid performances, as junior Collin Shurbet took 21st in the 400-meter run with a time of 51.18 seconds, with junior Lee Johnson taking home a time of 51.91 seconds. Junior Dan Sloat shaved three seconds off of his time in the 800-meter run from last week, running the event in 1:56 minutes. Sophomore Sammy Abuhamra ran the mile run in 4:22 minutes, besting his previous top time by three seconds.
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