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Southeast Missouri State track team to host Haines Invitational
The Joey Haines Invitational doesn't have the abundance of teams it once did.
But according to Southeast Missouri State track and field coach Eric Crumpecker, the Redhawks' annual outdoor meet has continued to feature top-flight competition.
Crumpecker expects no different when the 31st annual Joey Haines Invitational takes place today and Saturday at the Abe Stuber Complex.
There will be one event today, the hammer throw at 3:30 p.m. The rest of the meet will be Saturday, with field events starting at 10:30 a.m., followed by running events at 11:30.
"It's been a good meet for us every year, and it looks like we're going to get some good weather, which is always nice," Crumpecker said. "It's not a very big meet, but it should be a really good meet, like it always is. It should be very competitive in every event.
"Our athletes always look forward to this meet. It's always nice to compete at home. The kids like to be in front of the home crowd. It's nice to not have to get on a bus to go somewhere. It wears on you every week. It will be nice to sleep in our own beds."
Joining Southeast for the meet will be Arkansas State, Memphis, SIU Edwardsville and Rend Lake (Ill.) Junior College. No team scores will be kept.
"Arkansas State and Memphis are really strong teams. Edwardsville has a nice team, and Rend Lake always has some good athletes," Crumpecker said.
Crumpecker said most regular-season meets have gone away from huge fields, which is what Southeast's annual event had during some of its early years.
"In the old days we'd have 40-plus teams some years," Crumpecker said. "You just don't see that much anymore. Those really big meets are a nightmare to put on and then run so long. Most schools are getting away from the big meets.
"With the really big meets, you're at the track from early in the morning until sometimes late at night. It's really not conducive to getting the best out of your athletes. You just want to be able to compete and keep improving leading up to your conference meets."
Southeast nabbed five first-place finishes a year ago. The only returning individual champion is senior Jessica Bollinger, who captured the 5,000 meters.
This weekend's meet will not be Southeast's only chance to compete at home. It's the Redhawks' turn to host the Ohio Valley Conference outdoor championships May 4 and 5.
"Our kids always compete so well at home," Crumpecker said. "We're definitely looking forward to being out here twice this year."
Southeast claimed three of a possible four OVC athlete of the week awards for the second consecutive week.
Junior Craig Robinson was tabbed the co-male field athlete of the week, Bollinger earned co-female track athlete of the week honors and junior Nikki Buchheit is the female field athlete of the week.
Robinson set a personal best in the shot put with 57 feet, 1 inch at Saturday's Ole Miss Invitational. He finished second and has the OVC's top distance.
Bollinger also posted a career performance, winning the 10,000 meters at Friday's Washington University Invitational with a time of 36 minutes, 57.20 seconds. The mark leads the OVC.
Buchheit was fifth in the pole vault at the Ole Miss Invitational with a season-best 11-3 3/4.