Freshman shines for Missouri track team at Tom Botts Invitational

Saturday, April 14, 2012 | 7:09 p.m. CDT; updated 9:20 p.m. CDT, Saturday, April 14, 2012
Missouri pole vaulter Katrine Haarklau clears the bar during competition Saturday at the Tom Botts Track and Field Invitational at Audrey J. Walton Stadium.

COLUMBIA — It was senior day for the Missouri track and field team Saturday at the Tom Botts Invitational at Audrey J. Walton Stadium, but it was freshman thrower Kearsten Peoples who shined for the Tigers.

The Ottawa, Kan., native earned the Female Outstanding Performance award at the event, winning the hammer throw and shot put and placing second in the discus.

In her first year of outdoor competition, her ability has started to receive national recognition. Her personal best of 56 feet, 11½ inches in the shot put ranks third nationally and has qualified her for the Olympic Trials this summer.

On Saturday, Peoples didn't improve her shot put mark, but she still put on an impressive show, launching mud and grass almost a foot in the air on each of her throws. Her best distance of the day, 56-1, was good enough to win. She won the hammer throw at 191-8, and a 167-2 earned second in the discus.

Despite her success, Peoples is quick to give credit to her teammates.

“I am happy with my results, but I am just so proud of everyone,” Peoples said. “They are doing the best they can and that is why we are putting ourselves in a position to win.”

The Missouri women’s team won the six-team event, easily outdistancing second-place Iowa 251.5-130. Iowa won the men's team competition with 252 points. Missouri beat Illinois 178-141 for second.

Peoples humble personality showed when she received her award. She timidly smiled as Tigers coach Brett Halter handed her the silver plate then nervously walked back to her teammates.

Despite her humility, Halter said he knows Peoples is fiercely competitive.

“She sincerely wants (teammate) Jill Rushin to beat her so the bar can be raised, and Kearsten can improve,” Halter said. Rushin, a sophomore, was second in the shot put Saturday at 51-4 1/4.

The Tigers compete next Thursday at the Mount SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif.

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