Feb. 2, 2014
HOUSTON – Sam Stabler became just the second Lamar athlete in history to break the four-minute barrier in the mile run en route to claiming his first career school record, and Louise Webb set a top Lady Cardinal mark of her own as the LU men’s and women’s track and field teams wrapped up competition at the Howie Ryan Invitational on the campus of the University of Houston.
“We came into this meet knowing that we were going to see some good performances, but I don’t know that we came in thinking we were going to see a sub-four-minute mile,” head coach Trey Clark said. “Our kids came here with the intent to compete, and it’s what we’ve been preaching all along. If they go out and compete, the times, distances and marks will take care of themselves. That’s really what we saw out there today.”
Stabler, a junior out of Queniborough, England, finished the race in 4:02:38, which converts to 3:59.33 due to the meet being held on a 200 meter flat track. The time moves him to fifth nationally in the event. It’s the second occasion that Stabler has made national news in as many weeks as Stabler set what was then the top national mark in the 3,000 meter run at the Texas A&M 12-Team Invitational last month.
“I was happy with how I did today, and I came in with the goal of putting up a time like that,” Stabler revealed. “It’s great to be a part of Lamar’s history, especially considering the last few years and how training has gone with the boys. It’s such a great team environment, and I’m sure that I won’t be at the top for long. I’ve got a lot of confidence right now, and hopefully I’ll have a breakthrough in the 3,000 meter run next week.”
“This really just shows how dedicated Sam is,” Clark said. “You don’t get there by accident. Now obviously, he has a lot of talent, but he’s put in a lot of time and effort and energy that people just don’t see. He’s committed life to being successful, and he’s still got some goals left to achieve this season.”
The previous mile record was previously held by two-time cross country All-American Francis Kasagule, who is one of the most decorated athletes in school history.
Webb’s day was similarly impressive. The Southampton, England, kicked off her meet by finishing first among all collegiate athletes in the mile with a time of 4:53.52, which moved her up to second on LU’s all-time performance list and first in the Southland this season. However, it would only get better for the graduate student as she posted a time of 2:11.89 in the 800 meter run, finishing second and breaking the previous school record in the event by more than two seconds.
“Having run the mile earlier in the day, I wasn’t quite expecting to run as fast as I did,” Webb admitted. “I thought that I would run a bit quicker in the 800 than I did at this track earlier this season, and I was really excited when Coach Clark told me that I broke the record. We have a really good group of athletes here, and we’re all working towards setting more records this season.”
“Louise had a great day today,” Clark added. “My first thought when I watched the 800 was ‘Wow.’ Especially when you consider that after running the mile, the expectation for her was just to go out and compete. It was just awesome to watch her have that kind of day, and I’m glad that she was able to experience that level of success within a matter of hours.”
Kayla de Bondt was also put together a strong outing for the Lady Cards. She finished third among collegiate athletes in the mile with a time of 4:55.42, which moved her to fourth all-time on LU’s performance list and second in the Southland rankings this year. Like Webb, she followed up in the 800, finishing 10th with a time of 2:16.78, ranking her at fifth in the conference.
Leigh Lattimore also hopped into the Southland rankings on Saturday, completing the mile in 4:58.47 to finish fifth among collegiate athletes and rank fourth league-wide.
Aaron Bennett led the rest of the pack for the men’s distance group, taking home a second consecutive 800 title with a time of 1:52.63, the second-best mark in the conference this season.
“I think Aaron has proven that he’s a person to contend with for the conference title,” Clark said. “Any time that he steps on the track, he’s got a chance to win the race. He’s very competitive and the race didn’t set up to go as fast as he wanted it to be, but it was still a good win for him.”
Sean Chalmers, a freshman out of Dingwall, Scotland, had a career day for the Cards putting up top-five conference marks in both the 800 and the mile, recording times of 1:55.20 and 4:16.77, respectively.
Ryan Creech completed the 3,000 meter run with a time of 8:35.29 to place third and move into the top five in the Southland. Belinda Aguilar and Megan Flanagan ran in the event for the women, finishing seventh and ninth, respectively, with times of 10:19.45 and 10:35.76.
After a strong first day, Dominique Taylor placed 23rd in the 60 meter dash with a time of 7.80 seconds, just .01 off of the time she set on Friday, which ranks third on LU’s all-time performance list. She bettered her time from a day ago in the 60 meter hurdles, ending 13th with a time of 8.86. The Houston native, who moved to second on the all-time list in after Friday’s prelims, improved her previous best time by .02 seconds.
In the 4x400 relays, the quartet of Sarah Shim, Bianca Allen, Elzbieta Gawron and Saschelle Slaughter recorded a time of 3:52.49 to place fifth in the event. On the men’s side, the group of Chance Williams, Jared Benford, TaMar Hicks and Trevon Davis ended seventh with a time of 3:18.35. Both times currently rank fifth in the conference.
“One of our season goals this year is to be in the fast section of the conference meet for the 4x400 teams,” Clark said. “That’s definitely within reach, and we’re looking for some people to step up for us. The women ran three seconds faster than they did at A&M, and we still have some time to improve. The men also ran a little bit faster, even with a different group.”