May 12, 2013
LAKE CHARLES - Less than 24 hours after an unfortunate injury knocked Joe Wade out of the running for a second consecutive title in the 3,000 meter steeplechase, the graduate student returned to the track to win the 1,500 meter title as the Southland Outdoor Championships wound down at Cameron Communications Track and Field Complex on the campus of McNeese State.
"To be honest, I didn't go into the race thinking about winning it," Wade revealed. "[LU athletic trainer] Anthony Diehl put me through treatment last night and today, but I still wasn't sure I'd run leading up to it, and the race just worked out for me. Normally, I like to run out in front and I really didn't do that today, but with 100 meters to go, I just went for it. I like to score points for the team, so it was tough to drop those yesterday when I got hurt, and this was just a nice way to go out."
Wade, who won the event with a time of 3:51.17, joined an elite group of Cardinal men, picking up a fifth career Southland Championship, a mark that's only bettered by former Olympians Thomas Eriksson (10) and Doug Hinds (6) and the duo of Francis Kasagule (6) and Samuel Kosgei (6). Perhaps most impressive is the fact that Wade has accomplished the feat in four different events, the 800 and mile indoors as well as the 1,500 and steeplechase outdoors.
"First and foremost, Joe is a competitor, and every time that we've asked him to do something, he's gone out there and done well," head coach Trey Clark explained. "I think that willingness to work has been a very valuable asset to the program over the years, and I'm going to miss having him at future conference meets."
The win marked the second consecutive for a Lamar athlete in the event after Wade's twin brother Tom garnered the honors last season.
As a team, Lamar placed seventh on the men's side with 55.5 points, and the women were ninth at 49.5. Stephen F. Austin won both titles with 162 and 171, respectively
Wade was far from the only standout performer on the day as Becky Gough made the trek to the medal stand twice, finishing second in the 5,000 meter run with a time of 17:38.37 and third in the 1,500 with a season-best mark of 4:38.16.
"This was my last competition and my last season in America, so I really wanted to do well today," Gough said. "It was a pretty good day for the distance runners. I started out with the 1,500, and then I got to watch Joe's amazing sprint finish as I was cooling down. That really gave me some momentum into the 5K."
Gough was actually joined by another Lady Card on the medal stand following the 5,000 as fellow University of Birmingham graduate Claire Miles placed third with a time of 17:40.66.
"I think having Claire up there was just a perfect way to end my season," Gough said. "Claire has one more year left, and I hope she can maybe win a championship next year, but this is it for me. For us to go up there together was really special."
Matt Johnsen, who finished third in the 10,000 meter run earlier in the weekend, came back to the track for the 5,000 in impressive fashion, ending second with a time of 14:37.13. Sam Stabler very nearly joined him on the medal stand, but he was unable to hold off a late surge from McNeese's Alex Bruce-Littlewood, finishing just .07 behind the Cowboy to finish fourth at 14:43.46.
It was the second race of the day where Stabler came in fourth as the sophomore clocked in at 3:53.77 in the 1,500 earlier in the day.
"Matt had a really good weekend for us," Clark said. "He's dealt with some injuries this year, but he's just a tough kid. He ran 15,000 meters this weekend and scored 14 points. Stabler was solid too with a pair of fourth place finishes, and I'm excited to see him when he comes back to this event next year."
Johnathon Reece was the only other Card to take home all-conference honors, topping six feet, 8.75 inches in the high jump to tie for third. The freshman out of New Waverly narrowly missed clearing what would have been a career-best and SLC-winning mark of six feet, 10.75 inches. By nature of having the least misses at 6-8.75, Southeastern Louisiana's Clarence Robinson took home the event crown.
"Reece is a guy that you can build a jumps program around," Clark said. "He's battled through injuries all season, and to still get all-conference is a tribute to his talent. You can really count on him around championship time whether he's at his best or not, and you need people in your program like that."
Other standout jumpers included Erin Brown and Beatrice Douglas. Brown put up a distance of 38 feet, six inches in the triple jump, making her the third-best performer in school history in the event, and Douglas cleared five feet, 3.75 inches in the high jump. The duo finished seventh and fifth in their respective event.
"Erin was pretty impressive today, and I'm looking forward to seeing where she's at a year from now," Clark said. "Both her and Beatrice are examples of the type of versatile kids that we can get in here since we've expanded the jumps program. They are both big pieces of the puzzle as we move forward."
Leslie Beard further etched her name into the Lamar history books. Months after breaking her own school record at the Southland Indoor Championships, she repeated the feat with a mark of 11 feet, 10.75 inches outdoors, besting her own previous school record by an inch. The sophomore out of Lumberton ended fifth in the event.
"Leslie is a gamer," Clark explained. "She's really stepped up to the challenge and continued to progress this season. It seems like she gets better each time out, and she's still got two more years to develop and improve. I really think she's got a chance to be one of the better performers in the conference going forward."
A day after putting up the best 400 meter dash time by a Lady Card in a half-decade, Saschelle Slaughter bettered her mark in the finals of the event, finishing fourth with a time of 55.48, just missing a spot on the medal stand by .04 seconds.
In other sprint competition, Ashley Idunoba finished fifth in the 200 with a time of 24.07, marking the first time she has not taken home SLC gold since 2010, and Zach Hicks also clocked in at fifth on the men's side with a time of 21.40. Trevon Davis came in eighth in the 400 at 48.88.
Sunday marked the last meet of the season for the majority the Cards, but a handful will return to action at the NCAA West Preliminaries in Austin later this month.