ON CAMPUS: Corcoran surprises by winning Big South javelin title
• EDITOR’S NOTE: On Campus features area athletes playing college sports. This installment appears every week throughout the school year. If you know of anyone who should be included, email Mirza Zukic at email@example.com or call (724) 465-5555, ext. 267.
Based on what he had seen from Jackson Corcoran this season — and it wasn’t much — Coastal Carolina men’s track and field coach Jeff Carter didn’t expect much from him at the conference meet, either.
Having competed in exactly one meet all season before the Big South Conference Championships three weeks ago, the oft-injured Corcoran was in the lineup for the conference meet, but largely just to get some live action, not much of a threat to win the javelin title.
But that’s just what he did, much to the surprise of his coach.
At the Big South Conference Championships on April 18, Corcoran uncorked a season-best throw of 207 feet, 6 inches, in the javelin to win the conference title. Not only was the throw his season best, it was his best in more than a calendar year, since he threw 223-8 in the first meet of his sophomore season in March 2013.
“That was a surprise,” Carter said, “based on what we had seen of him this season.”
A Ligonier Valley graduate, Corcoran has been hamstrung by injuries since arriving at Coastal Carolina two years ago, but he came out of nowhere to win his first conference championship three weeks ago.
A redshirt junior, Corcoran currently ranks 58th in the NCAA East Region. The top 48 athletes in the regional rankings in each event advance to the NCAA Preliminary Round, the final step before the NCAA Final Round.
Corcoran has competed in only two meets this season. In addition to his conference title, he took fourth at Auburn’s Tiger Classic with a throw of 194-8 on April 5.
“Injuries have had a big role in that,” Carter said. “The javelin really puts a lot of stress on the arm. Unfortunately, injuries have been a problem for him since he’s gotten here.”
As a sophomore in 2013, Corcoran took third at the conference meet (202-4) and was named to the All-Big South team. He advanced to the NCAA East Preliminary Round, but didn’t move on to the NCAA Final Round.
He started his sophomore season with a throw of 223-8 to earn second place out of 44 competitors at the Chanticleers’ home meet, the Shamrock Invitational on March 15, 2013.
He added a pair of top-10 finishes during the regular season before placing third at the Big South Meet and 41st at the NCAA East preliminary round. His 41st-place finish at the preliminaries was his lone finish outside the top 10 in three seasons with Coastal Carolina. Corcoran has competed in just eight meets over the past three seasons.
In his first season at Coastal Carolina, located in Conway, S.C., Corcoran competed in only one meet. He threw a personal-best 226-2 to place second at the Shamrock Invitational in March 2012. He suffered a significant injury that day and didn’t compete again and was granted a medical redshirt.
His throw of 226-2 that day ranks third on the school’s all-time list.
Prior to Coastal Carolina, Corcoran spent a season at Robert Morris, where he set the school record with a throw of 217-3.
ALISON SIMMONS (Bates College, rowing): A sophomore from Indiana, Simmons was a part of Bates’ gold-medal winning second varsity eight boat at last weekend’s New England Rowing Championships on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass.
As a team, Bates accumulated a 28-1 record and took second place out of 32 schools from six northeastern states. Simmons and the second varsity eight were undefeated on the day and won the grand finals.
The Bobcats’ third varsity eight and the novice four also went undefeated on the day, with Bates’ only blemish a second-place finish in the first varsity eight in the grand finals. In that race, the Bobcats held off seven-time defending NCAA Division III champion Williams.
Simmons and her second varsity eight dominated the grand final, finishing the 2,000-meter course in 7 minutes, 2.537 seconds, more than eight seconds ahead of runner-up Trinity, which took the team title. For their victory, the Bobcats earned the Patricia A. Hasset Bowl for the first time since its inception in 1976.
Simmons and Bates will compete at the ECAC/National Invitational Rowing Championships on Sunday, which serves as the qualifying regatta for the NCAA Rowing Championships.
As a freshman last season, Simmons was part of the second varsity eight that won bronze at the NCAA Division III Championships and helped Bates to a second-place finish in the team standings at the NCAA Championships.
MICHAEL PETRO (Allegheny, track and field): Another thrower from Ligonier Valley, Petro enjoyed a banner junior season for the Division III Gators, setting personal bests in all four of his events, and he capped it with his best throw ever on the final throw of his season.
At the North Coast Athletic Conference Championships on Saturday, Petro threw 180 feet, 1 inch in the hammer throw to take second place and help the Gators finish third in the team standings, their best finish since 2010. Petro unleashed his personal-best throw in the event on his final throw of his junior season.
“Petro actually took the lead on his last throw, but then the next guy took it right back,” Allegheny College coach Brent Wilkerson said. “Going forward, I know Petro is going to be hungry for the top spot in the conference next year.”
Petro’s previous best in the event came at Carnegie Mellon’s Mini Invite on March 29, when he took first in the hammer throw with a throw of 179 feet, 2 inches.
In his previous competition, on April 19, Petro took fifth out of 34 throwers at Baldwin Wallace’s Sparky Adams Invitational with a throw of 172-7. At the same meet, he took fourth in the discus with a throw of 129-10, setting a new personal-best.
During the indoor season, Petro set personal bests in the shot put (37-0¼) and the weight throw (54-10¼). He placed second in the weight throw, an indoor-only event, at the North Coast Athletic Conference Indoor Championships on March 8.
THIEL TRACK AND FIELD: Three local underclassmen, all of them distance runners, dotted the Tomcats’ roster this season.
• ALEXA SICHKO: A freshman from Penns Manor, Sichko has competed in the 800-, 1,500- and 5,000-meter runs for the Tomcats this outdoor season.
Sichko qualified for the Presidents Athletic Conference Championships in the 1,500, and she posted a time of 6:02.48 at the conference meet on April 26, less than a two-tenths of a second off her personal-best time in the event. Her best time in the event was a 6:02.36 at Slippery Rock’s Dave Labor Invitational on April 4.
During the indoor season, Sichko competed in the mile, the 500 and 3,000.
She qualified for the PAC Indoor Championships in the mile, posting a personal-best time of 6:12.46 at the conference meet, an improvement of more than 17 seconds from earlier in the season.
Sichko also runs cross country for the Tomcats.
• MARGARET BINGAMAN: Bingaman competed at two indoor meets before an injury cut her sophomore season short. An Indiana graduate, Bingaman competed in the 500 and 800 once each.
As a freshman in 2013, Bingaman competed in the 800, 1,000, 1,500 and 3,000.
• BEVERLY KOZUCH: A freshman from West Shamokin, Kozuch competes in several long-distance events for the Tomcats. She ran in the 800 and 1,500 during the outdoor season and the mile, the 500 and 3,000 during the indoor season.
She ran her personal-best time of 6:11.68 in the 1,500 on March 22 at California’s Early Bird Meet. A week later, at Marietta College’s Don Frail Invitational, she ran a personal-best of 3:08.52 in the 800.
Kozuch qualified for the PAC Outdoor Championships in the 1,500.
During the indoor season, she ran a personal-best time of 6:38.21 in the mile at the PAC Indoor Championships on Feb 27, an improvement of nearly 40 seconds since her first collegiate meet, when she ran a 7:10.82.
Kozuch also runs cross country for Thiel.
CLARION SOFTBALL: Headlined by former Marion Center standout Kiersten Gromley, four local products, including three from Punxsutawney, suited up for the Golden Eagles during a trying 4-29 season this spring.
• KIERSTEN GROMLEY: A sophomore pitcher for the Golden Eagles, Gromley did not see any game action this season. As a freshman last season, the Marion Center graduate started two games, going 0-2 with a 14.44 earned-run average
• SHAWNNA CRAGO: A junior pitcher from Punxsutawney, Crago had a team-best 3.76 ERA and two of the Golden Eagles’ four wins.
She appeared in 13 games, including nine starts, and logged six complete games. She collected 56 strikeouts in 67 innings while giving up 61 runs (36 earned). She held opponents to a .229 batting average, the best on the team. Crago went 2-9 on the season.
She was named the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division pitcher of the week on March 24, for the week of March 17 to 23.
• ASHLEY BARENCHIK: A sophomore from Punxsutawney, Barenchik appeared in 32 of the Eagles’ 33 games, and she logged 31 starts at second base. She hit .183 on the season (17-for-93) and ranked second on the team with 11 runs scored. Barenchik tied for second on the team with six doubles.
She posted a .248 on-base percentage and a .280 slugging percentage.
• TAYLOR POWELL: An everyday first baseman, Powell started all 33 games this season and ranked second on the team with 10 RBIs. Powell ranked third on the team with 18 hits, and fourth among players with 10 or more at-bats with a .202 batting average (18-for-89).
Powell had a .263 on-base percentage and a .270 slugging percentage.
Powell and Barenchik tied for second on the team with six doubles.