Ja’Mari Ward, Gabi Jacobs set track and field program top-10 marks at Tyson Invitational

With championship season on the horizon, the Tigers competed in 19 events in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Sophomore Ja'Mari Ward jumps at an event during his senior year in high school. Courtesy of Austin Holler

Missouri sophomore Ja’Mari Ward is a known quantity in outdoor jumping.

The Cahokia, Illinois, native registered Mizzou all-time top-10 marks in the outdoor long and triple jumps in 2017, winning the Southeastern Conference and Pan-American Junior titles in the long jump in the process. But when he got his first taste of official collegiate indoor competition at the Columbia Challenge in New York City two weeks ago, he fouled all three of his long jump attempts.

Ward finally extended his proud pedigree to the indoor realm this weekend at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Arkansas, finishing fifth in the long jump on Friday with 7.71 meters and ninth in the triple jump on Saturday with 15.66 meters. The scores ranked fifth and sixth, respectively, in Tiger history.

Notably, when competing unattached during his 2017 redshirt indoor season, Ward completed a 15.7-meter triple jump, which would have tied him for fifth on the program all-time chart.

The Tyson Invitational was one of two meets attended by Missouri this weekend, but the bulk of the Tiger action took place in Fayetteville.

After achieving the program’s sixth- and ninth-best ever (18.88 and 18.5 meters) women’s weight throws, respectively, at the Columbia Challenge, juniors Cece Johnson and Becky Keating regressed to 17.82 and 17.75 meters on Friday, finishing fifth and sixth in the meet. The totals still stand as second-best in each of their Mizzou careers, however.

At last year’s Tyson Invitational, current junior Maya Cody ran Missouri’s second-fastest ever 60-meter dash in 7.39 seconds. But she did not come close to her 2017 feat on Saturday, finishing 19th in 7.54 seconds, tied for her slowest time in the past year and missing out on qualification for the event finals.

The Tigers’ most competitive performance of the weekend came in the women’s 800-meter run on Friday, where redshirt senior Valeska Halamicek and redshirt freshman Karina Liz broke out well in front of the rest of their heat by the halfway point and finished the race nearly in sync with each other, claiming first and second overall with times of 2:10.72 and 2:10.8, respectively.

Halamicek’s time represented a second straight improvement and her best showing since last year’s SEC championships, while Liz surpassed her previous personal best by more than two seconds.

Redshirt sophomore Patrick Kunza and redshirt junior Avery Carter finished fourth and sixth, respectively, in the men’s weight throw. Carter has now reset his personal record in the event four consecutive times, all during the 2017-18 season. His 18.66-meter toss on Friday was a far cry from the 15.59-meter personal best he entered the season with.

Carter continued his success on Saturday by ending a season-long skid in the shot put, placing 10th with 16.8 meters. After three consecutive regressions culminating in a career low at the Columbia Challenge, Carter finally moved back in a positive direction but still has yet to top his season-opening performance from the Missouri Holiday Opener on Dec. 8.

Redshirt junior Will Fife finished ahead of Carter in fifth place in the shot put, improving his personal record by almost half a meter.

Redshirt junior Gabi Jacobs put her name in the program record book on Saturday with a 15.09-meter throw in the shot put, good for ninth in Tiger history. She finished fifth in the event.

Shortly after, redshirt senior Jerrad Mason completed a rough weekend with a 26th-place finish in the men’s 200-meter dash. A program top-10 record holder and SEC championships veteran in both the 200 and 400 meters, Mason finished outside the top 15 in both events in Fayetteville, and his 200-meter time of 22.04 seconds was the worst of his career.

Missouri will host its final regular season meet, the Missouri Collegiate Challenge, on Feb. 16 at Hearnes Center. The SEC indoor championships will be held Feb. 24-25 in College Station, Texas.

Edited by Joe Noser | jnoser@themaneater.com

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