Track enjoys another record-breaking day Southland Championships

GO CARDINALS <b>Sam Stabler and Southland commissioner Tom Burnett.</b>
Sam Stabler and Southland commissioner Tom Burnett.

Feb. 27, 2014

2014 Southland Indoor Championship ResultsGet Acrobat Reader

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - When Trey Clark met with his Lamar track and field team on the eve of the 2014 Southland Indoor Championships, the 15th-year head coach was focused on the idea of earning respect, and after capturing a league-best eight individual conference titles over the two-day meet, it's hard to say the program didn't accomplish the goal.

"I think that in terms of where we're at as a program, the kids needed to be challenged going into the meet," Clark said. "And that's what I was going for. They needed to see themselves as more. Now, we didn't win two team titles, but the effort was there. The passion was there, and the team unity and chemistry was there. This is a big step in the right direction."

The Lamar women finished third with 82 points. It's the highest finish ever for the Lady Cardinals, and the men were fourth with 75 points. Sam Houston State won the women's crown with 132 points, and Southeastern Louisiana earned 119 to win the men's championship.

Perhaps, no other athlete better exemplifies the effort to which Clark referred than junior Sam Stabler. The Englishman entered the meet on the heels of three fourth place finishes in conference events last year, but this time around, he picked up two championships on Thursday en route to earning the individual points crown.

"The standard at LU over the years has been brilliant," Stabler said. "I wasn't up to that level when I came in, but I'm two years stronger. There have been so many quality runners at Lamar, so to stand out among that group is amazing."

Stabler, who set the meet record in the mile on Wednesday, won the final with a time of 4:10.61. It marked the third consecutive year and the seventh in nine that a Card has claimed the men's mile crown. In the 3,000 meter run, Stabler posted a time of 8:21.69 to become the fifth LU champion in the event in six years.

"In my experience, there has always been a dominant performer in this conference," Clark said. "We've had our fair share over the years, as have other schools, and we're lucky enough to have another in Sam. I'm glad to have him on our team."

When combined with running the anchor leg of the record-setting distance medley relay on Wednesday, Stabler accounted for 22.5 points in the meet, joining Francis Kasagule as the only Card in to take home the points crown in men's indoor meet history.

Not to be outdone, Louise Webb mounted a similar assault on the rest of the conference, taking home the 800 and 3,000 meter crowns with times of 2:13.68 and 10:03.05, respectively. Also a member of a championship-winning distance medley relay team, Webb tied Clerc Koenck for the highest LU point total at an indoor meet in school history. She finished second in points to Stephen F. Austin's Bryarysheyia Simpson, who earned 26.

Kayla de Bondt also took home an individual crown, winning the mile with a time of 4:57.64. A freshman out of Australia, she is the third LU mile-winner on the women's side in four years.

In addition to making Southland history, the Cardinals re-wrote the school record books at the meet, beginning with the 4x400 meter relay team of Nia Davis, Sarah Shim, Elzbieta Gawron and Saschelle Slaughter. The quartet was part of the fastest heat in conference history as each of the top three teams beat out the previous meet record. The LU squad ended in 3:45.31, which shattered the previous school record by two seconds.

"The reason the 4x400 excited me so much is that it was a bunch of underdogs going out there and getting after it," Clark said. "They put in the work, prepared the right way, and had the physical, mental and emotional strength to come through. In a race like the 4x400, it's the end of the meet and everybody is tired, but those four ran the best race of their lives."

Erin Brown smashed the previous school record in the triple jump, posting a distance of 38 feet, 8.25. It was nearly five inches better than the previous school mark, which was set by Lynetta Randolph in 2002.

"I wasn't doing as well earlier this season, so having a performance like that in the conference meet is a big confidence booster," Brown said. "It means a lot to me to reach that goal, and I'm looking forward to trying to break that record again."

Brown placed sixth overall in the event.

Slaughter was also a part of a bit of history earlier in the day, completing the 400 meter final in a personal-best time of 55.52, which ranks second all-time on the school's performance list.

Dominique Taylor had a similar outing in the 60 meter hurdles. The freshman from Houston improved her time from 8.83 seconds a day prior to 8.72, narrowly missing a new school record by .03 seconds. 

Slaughter and Taylor finished fourth and sixth, respectively, in their events.

In other action, the Lamar women scored major points in 3,000 meter run. Leigh Lattimore finished just .07 seconds behind Webb to place second in the event, and Claire Arnold ended fourth at 10:09.15. Belinda Aguilar ran eighth at 10:16.06.

LU also had multiple point-scorers in the mile as Mike Kershaw was fourth at 4:14.27 and Sean Chalmers was fifth at 4:16.58.

Aaron Bennett also got a spot on the medal stand in the 800, finishing third with a time of 1:52.75, just .28 seconds shy of the gold.

Trevon Davis ended fifth in the 400 with a time of 48.56, and three other Cards posted sixth place finishes, beginning with Le'Trey Burton's 8.47 second showing in the 60 meter hurdles. Ryan Creech finished the 3K in 8:37.02, and Robert Badillo posted a personal-best distance in the triple jump with a mark of 47 feet, 2.5 inches.




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