BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – With its regular season behind them, Sam Houston State track and field returns to the Birmingham CrossPlex for the Southland Conference Indoor Championships, as both squads look to repeat as league champions.
The two-day event begins Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. with the heptathlon, followed 20 minutes later by the pentathlon. The running event finals get underway at 12 p.m. and the field event finals kick off at 1 p.m.
Thursday will mark the conclusion of the heptathlon highlighted by the 60-meter hurdles, pole vault and 1,000 meters. The field events start at 10 a.m. while the running events begin at 12 p.m. Fans can watch the entire event streamed live via Southland.org/live and the Southland Conference app.
A season ago, the Bearkats claimed both men’s and women’s titles for the first time in 10 years, backed by program-best points for both the men (121) and the women (162). This season, both squads have been hindered by injuries, mainly for the women, who have claimed two of three league titles since the event moved over to the CrossPlex in 2014.
“It has been probably the craziest indoor season we’ve had,” head coach David Self said. “We’re going in with about half-strength on the women’s side. We’ve never had this many injuries in one season in probably 13 seasons here as a coach. It’s going to be an absolute barn burner but I feel pretty good about it.”
The Sam Houston men have not been as banged up but have still lost key players including sophomore Eric Pouncy, who took sixth in the 400 meters at the championships a season ago.
“We knew if were going in full strength, we’d be sitting in the same situation as last year,” Self said. “Now we have a fight.”
The Bearkats enter the league championships owning a combined 37 top-three performance marks in the league including conference-favorites Camry Grigsby (800 meters), Tristyn Allen (triple jump), Kristine Hanks (shot put) and Kalvin Singletary (weight throw).
“Those returners know our expectations,” Self said. “We go in as the favorites and have a target on our backs. These kids know the tradition of Sam Houston State and bringing their A-game. We’ve been training since Labor Day for this. I think they have the experience. They have that in their bags of things they can use.”
Grigsby and Hanks enter as the defending champions in their respective events. A season ago, Hanks used a toss of 48 feet, 10 inches, to win the shot put while Grigsby paced action in the 800 meters at 2:09.68.
On the men’s side, Tyler Adams is seeking his fourth Southland gold, taking home the high jump (7 feet, 1 inch) and heptathlon (5,221) titles in 2015 and the heptathlon (5,227) again a season ago. Adams is joined by two-time champion Jeffrey Moore, who took gold in the 800 meters (1:52.00) and 1-mile run (4:12.91) last year.
Sam Houston earned strong results in its past two weekends of competitions including five first-place finishes at the Indoor Classic from Frisco as well as impressive outings in Albuquerque, N.M., Notre Dame, Ind., and Akron, Ohio, prior to that.
“Our kids are doing a great job,” Self said. “This whole indoor season has been insanity. We are looking forward to getting to a nice facility that is run really well. Hopefully we can have a really good meet.”