March 30, 2014
HOUSTON - Sam Stabler picked up right where he left off on Saturday as the junior was one of four Lamar track athletes to pick up an event title at the 32nd annual Victor Lopez Classic at Holloway Field and Ley Track on the campus of Rice.
Stabler, the Southland's reigning indoor athlete of the year, won the race in 3:43.44, which currently ranks at the top time in the conference and second only to Francis Kasagule's time of 3:40.89 in LU history. It also ends the week as the No. 2 time in the country.
"Every time that Sam runs, it just seems as if he's at a different level," head coach Trey Clark said. "He's been healthy and he's trained better than he ever has. This is special. As a coach, I've learned that phenomenal athletes come and go, and you have to enjoy the experiences while you have them."
Louise Webb, who earned indoor athlete of the year on the women's side, also competed in the 1,500, winning with a time of 4:29.67, which is the second-best in the conference this season and the fourth-best in school history.
"Louise has really responded to the training and environment," Clark said. "She's testing her limits almost every time she goes out now, and she's continuing to get better. She's somebody that we've come to count on to put up good performances consistently."
Mike Kershaw was the first Card to win an event this weekend, winning the 5,000 meter run on Friday with a time of 14:39.76, which ranks as the best time in the conference by more than six seconds, and Aaron Bennett rounded out the event winners with a conference-best time of 1:50.89 in the 800 on Saturday.
"Mike really struggled with some injuries last year, but he's done really, really well this year," Clark said. "It started with cross country, and he did well over distances of 8,000 meters. I'm not sure if we expected him to became a 5K guy, and that's a tribute to the hard work that he's put in. He's been exceptional."
"Aaron is rocking and rolling right now," Clark continued. "He's been one of our most consistent performers, and that was a lifetime-best for him. That's a great way to start outdoor season, and it should be interesting to see where he finishes up this year."
As a team, the LU men finished fifth with 70 points, and the women were 10th with 39.5. Notre Dame won the men's team title with 105, and Rice took it home for the women with 158.
Belinda Aguilar also scored for the distance group, finishing fourth in the 5,000 with a time of 17:49.11, which ranks third in the Southland, and Megan Flanagan ended seventh in the 3,000 meter steeplechase with a time of 11:47.95.
The women's 4x100 meter relay team of Dominique Taylor, Sarah Shim, Carissa Hill and Saschelle Slaughter was the highlight of the meet for the sprints. The group finished with a time of 46.33 seconds to place third. It's the third-best time in school history and the best time this season in the Southland.
"We really haven't been able to spend a lot of time working on the relay, and I'm very, very pleased with our execution in it," Clark said. "I think that they have very good chemistry, and it was a lot of fun to watch."
The men's 4x1 team ended second in 42.36, and both 4x400 teams ended third with times of 3:21.75 and 3:47.99.
Trevon Davis was second in the 400 meter dash at 48.52 seconds, and Chance Williams completed the race in 49.22 to place fourth. TaMar Hicks was eighth with a career-best time of 50.14. Shim was the only scorer in the event for the women, setting a new career best and ending in 56.13.
"All of our 400 runners picked right back up from where they left off from indoor season," Clark said. "They had a solid month of training, and Sarah had a really good day yesterday. She took advantage of a good opportunity, and I expect her to get even better over the course of the season."
Thomas Lightfoot ended eighth in the 100 meter dash with a time of 11.53, and Le'Trey Burton was fifth in the 110 meter hurdles at 15.62.
Johnathon Reece was the men's top field performer for the Cards, finishing fourth in the high jump and topping six feet, 2.75 inches. Michael Lester led the team in the long jump with a career-best leap of 22 feet, nine inches, to finish seventh.
"I was really glad to see Mike back out there," Clark said. "This was his first chance to compete in about a year. He was a little rusty, but he got after it."
Carissa Hill was fourth in the long jump with a distance of 18 feet, nine inches, which ranks third in the Southland this year, and Beatrice Douglas was eighth at 17 feet, 11.75 inches.
"Carissa's been battling injury over the last couple of years, but she's continued to get better week in and week out," Clark said. "It was a very competitive performance for her. She's still working on some things on the technical side, so I think she has even bigger jumps left."
Denisha Nichols rounded out the scoring for the field athletes, throwing the discus a career-best 123 feet.