Courtesy: Southland Conference
SAN ANTONIO – When the dust settled on a wild three days in San Antonio, the Sam Houston State Bearkats emerged with both the men’s and women’s team titles at the 2018 Southland Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Thanks to a trademark well-rounded running squad and big performances on the field, the Bearkat men finished with 131.0 total points while the women racked up 166.0 to secure the team sweep. Abilene Christian’s men earned runner-up with 117.0 points while Stephen F. Austin tallied the same for a women’s team second-place finish.
It marked the fourth men’s outdoor title in program history for the Bearkats with each time being in back-to-back years. For the women, it marked the sixth outdoor title. It is also the third time the Kats have swept both the men’s and women’s crowns, doing so in both 2005 and 2006.
Sam Houston continued to run up the medal count in the women’s shot put with a one-two finish from Kristine Hanks (49-05.50/15.07m) and Halie Daniel (47-05.75/14.47m). In all, the Kats would pick up four gold medals on the day, including Tristyn Allen repeating as the women’s outdoor triple jump champion, reaching a distance of 43-01.00 (13.13m), ahead of HBU’s Natayla Nance (41-04.25) and Northwestern State’s Fabriana Nation (39-06.00).
Fabian McCall took gold for Sam Houston State in the 110m hurdles, clocking a 14.05, followed by Stephen F. Austin’s Kerry Gleason (14.27) and Darion Dunn from McNeese (14.41). Chris Jefferson also turned in a big day tying an 18-year-old conference meet record of 20.37 to take repeat gold for the Bearkats in the 200 meter dash, a mark that also ties him for fifth-best all-time in league history. Jefferson also finished second in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.15.
On the women’s heptathlon side Baylee Lara finished third (5,213) while Courtney Lord finished fifth (5,008). Tyler Adams took silver in the high jump with 6-11.75 while Tasha Crosse (167-05) took second in the women’s discus.
Kenaysia Dixon turned in a second-place finish in the women’s 200 meters with her time of 23.53 setting a new school record. The Kats also got big points in the women’s 800 meters as Camry Grigsby (2:09.79), Jamie Eckford (2:10.84) and Briana McCall (2:11.71) finished 2-3-4 in the standings.
Top three finishers in each event final are automatically named All-Southland Conference. The teams will be formally announced along with individual superlative winners on May 15.
For athletes who achieved qualifying marks this season, preliminaries for the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships will take place on the last weekend of May – in Tampa, Fla., for the East Region (May 25-27) and Sacramento, Calif., for the West (May 24-26).
The championship meet will again be held at University of Oregon’s Hayward Field in Eugene from June 6-9.
Head Coach Dave Self on the Bearkat men’s championship …
“I am just so proud of this group. We scratched and clawed for everything we got. We had to be lucky and we were in some spots. I told the team we needed to have some guys stand up and be heroes today and that’s what happened.”
Self on when he felt they had a chance to win …
“We knew after Day 1 we had a chance to win this, we looked at the results and the points and we felt like the men could get it done. We didn’t know for sure until after the 5K that we had this though.”
Self on having to get several things go their way…
“We had to get guys in the 400 to break Abilene up an bit and we did. We had to have the pole vault score well and they did. We had to score well in the hammer and we did. We had to score big in the horizontal jumps and we had two freshman win in the jumps.”
Self on the Bearkat women’s title …
“The women were an orange wave. We just crushed everyone. We knew coming in if we did everything right we were going to win this, but you still have to give credit to the girls and coming out and doing it on the day. We strive really hard about not being complacent. We have a motto that we never let up off the gas. Our women went out and broke the school record in the 4x4 (the last event) when we were already going to win by 50.”
Self on the team’s motivation after losing last year by 1.5 points…
“In our first meeting this year, I reminded the women they lost last year by a point and a half. That has been our conversation all year. We talk about how important it is to keep our foot on the gas.”
Self on dominance of the meet…
“We had so many kids step up. Halie Daniel had a huge PR in the shot. Makenzie Smajstrla had a PR in the pole vault. Selena wright, a red shirt freshman gets 4th in the 100 hurdles and Megan Smith took third in the 400 hurdles. Kenaysia Dixon broke Jessica Fisher’s school record in the 200.”