The number is three for track and field

Last weekend, the number was three for the Portland State women’s track and field squad.

Competing in the Big Sky Conference championships, the women took third place. It was their third best finish in PSU history, and senior Jazmin Ratcliff won her third straight Big Sky hurdles championship.

As far as individual accolades go, Ratcliff was joined on the list of Big Sky champions by fellow sophomore Baileh Simms, who won the long jump by breaking the PSU record. For assistant coach Johnathan Marcus, the individual titles are great and help push the team in the right direction, but it’s more about winning as a team.

“It’s always nice to have someone on top, but everyone deserves credit,” Marcus said. “Whether they are a Big Sky champion or a walk-on freshman. Everyone in this program works really hard. We would rather have zero individual champions and coach the best team, but if it takes everyone winning individual titles for us to win, then that’s what we’ll do.”

The Vikings’ third place finish is indicative of a team that has been performing at a high level for the last few years. With seniors like Ratcliff who have been winning since they were freshman, PSU picked up its second top-three finish in the last three years.

“It feels pretty good,” Marcus said. “We thought if we get third or higher, that would be a really big victory for the women’s program. It’s an exciting thing, but we’re definitely not resting.”

The Vikings don’t have time to rest. With Big Sky competition over, the track and field athletes still have the NCAA west preliminary meet coming up May 28–30 in Austin, Texas, with a chance on the line to compete in the NCAA outdoor championships in Eugene in June.

Before those meets even start, Viking athletes are pushing to make qualifying times for those meets, as a few members of the team competed at the Portland Twilight meet held at the University of Portland on Sunday. PSU won four events.

On the men’s side, another step was taken in the growing process of getting the program into a more competitive position as far as the Big Sky championships go. The men saw success from junior Sheldon Prince, who scored in three different events, two of which he was a member of a relay team. Overall, the men finished 11th with 13 total points.

“It’s all about growing,” Marcus said. “We’re young, and we took a step in the right direction. The Big Sky Conference for track and field is one of, if not the best, mid-major conference in the United States, so they have a really high standard of excellence to compete against.”

For both the men and the women, the track and field regular season has come to a close, and that means some of the last meets have been run for the seniors.

“A big thank you to all the seniors,” Marcus said. “They have played a big role in pushing this program forward.”

Up next for the Vikings, after the West preliminary meet and NCAA outdoor championships, comes preparation for the Big Sky Conference indoor season, starting in 2016.