Feb. 25, 2014
BEAUMONT – The Lamar men’s and women’s track and field programs will look to add to their extensive histories this weekend as the Cardinals will begin the 2014 Southland Indoor Championships on Wednesday at the Birmingham CrossPlex in Birmingham, Ala.
The Lamar men, historically one of the most successful programs in the conference with six team championships, will look to be buoyed by its consistently strong distance group. Sam Stabler, a junior out of England, is slated to lead the group this time around after experiencing a career indoor season. Stabler became the second Card ever to run a sub-four-minute mile earlier this season, and he enters this week as the top ranked mile and 3,000 meter athlete in the conference.
Stabler will be looking to win two of the Cards’ most prolific events. Joe Wade, winner of back-to-back mile titles in 2012 and 2013, has since graduated, and Stabler will be aiming to extend a run that has seen an LU athlete take home the crown in seven of the last eight years. He’ll also be aiming for a sixth LU 3K title since 2007. Previously, Tom Wade, Joe’s twin brother, won in 2011 and 2012.
Stabler is seeking his first career Southland crown after finishing fourth in three different events over the 2013 indoor and outdoor championships, including the mile.
Joining Stabler in the mile will be Sean Chalmers, who currently ranks seventh in the league with a time of 4:16.77, and Mike Kershaw, who is eighth at 4:16.88. Last season, Kershaw was ninth in the race.
Kershaw will also run in the 3,000 after putting up a time of 8:31.39 in the event earlier this season, which is sixth on the Southland list. Ryan Creech will look to build off a seventh place finish a year ago, and he is ninth in the league at 8:33.08. Sean Guiney, a freshman from Australia, is also scheduled to compete.
The LU men also have three titles in the 5,000 meter run since 2009, and Creech will aim to become the first since Matt Johnsen in 2012. Creech finished fifth in the event last year, and he’ll run alongside freshman Laurie Probert
, who ranks second in the league with a time of 14:53.94.
Aside from Probert, all mentioned were a part of the Southland-winning LU men’s cross country team this past fall.
Another newcomer in Aaron Bennett will be seeking a fourth consecutive win in the 800 this week after placing as the top collegiate finisher in all three races in which he’s competed. If the Southampton, England, native is successful, he’ll become the first LU 800 champ since Joe Wade in 2011. TaMar Hicks, a 10th place finisher a year ago, is also running in the event.
Overall, the Lamar men have won 38 individual crowns and 19 of the relay variety at the Southland Indoor Championships.
The prevalence of newcomers has undoubtedly been a theme of the 2014 track season for the Cards, and that certainly rings true for the LU women’s distance group, which will be led by the trio Kayla de Bondt, Louise Webb and Leigh Lattimore.
Webb, who spent much of the indoor season as the top 800 athlete in the conference, will be looking to regain her perch after dropping to second this past week. She also currently holds the LU school record in the event with a time of 2:11.89.
Webb, who also ranks first in the mile, will run in the 3,000 meter run, where she’s third at 9:57.45. There, she’ll be joined by the conference’s top athlete in the event in Leigh Lattimore, who owns a time of 9:35.64. Claire Arnold (fourth, 10:01.21), Belinda Aguilar (sixth, 10:10.19) and Megan Flanagan (23rd, 10:35.76) will round out the field.
The lone Lady Card running in the mile will be a freshman in de Bondt, who is third in the conference at 4:55.39.
The LU women have claimed five mile titles since 2006 and six in the 3,000 since 2004, including one by Becky Gough last season.
Four Lady Cards will compete in the 5,000, including Arnold, Flanagan, Lattimore and Nora-Beth Saunders, who ended eighth in the race last season with a time of 18:44.35.
In all, the LU women, winners of the 2013 cross country title, have taken home 17 individual crowns and five relays.
Johnathon Reece will lead the LU jumps group after he earned Freshman of the Year honors a year ago. The New Waverly native was a second-place finisher in the event last season with a height of six feet, 8.75 inches, and he’s topped that height twice this season to rank third in the league. Reece also finished third during outdoor season.
A veteran and a newcomer will compete in the high jump for the women. Beatrice Douglas, who placed 11th during the indoor meet last season, will be looking to build off of a fifth-place showing during outdoor season. Emma Lowry, a graduate student out of Scotland, helped her alma mater, Loughborough University, to four consecutive British team championships before transferring to LU.
Nicole Alozie, a freshman, ranks fifth in the long jump with a distance of 18 feet, three inches, and the trio of Erin Brown, Douglas and Carissa Hill will aim to impress as well. Douglas and Brown finished fourth and fifth, respectively, during indoor season last year with distances of 19 feet, 3.5 inches and 19 feet, 0.5 inches.
Brown, an eighth place finisher in the triple jump last season, is currently ninth with a distance of 36 feet, 10.5 inches. Freshman Brianna Foley will compete as well.
On the men’s side, both Robert Badillo and Xavier Broussard will jump in each event.
Leslie Beard, the school record holder in both the indoor and outdoor pole vault, topped 12 feet, 1.5 inches to place seventh last year, and she’s aiming for even more history as a junior this year.
Back on the track, both Trey Davis and Saschelle Slaughter will aim to build off strong showings to close out 2013. Slaughter, a fourth-place 400 athlete during both indoor and outdoor season last season, is ranked eighth in the event this time around with a time of 56.83 seconds. Davis, who is competing in the men’s race, improved a 10th-place showing during indoor season to eighth outdoors.
Chance Williams, a freshman, will also run with the men, and veterans in Elzbieta Gawron and Sarah Shim will race alongside Slaughter.
Jared Benford rounds out the sprinters, and he’s slated to participate in both the 60 and 200 meter dash.
Three hurdlers round out the squad for LU, led by Dominique Taylor. The freshman out of Houston is already among the school’s all-time leaders, and she’s currently ranked 14th in the Southland with a 60 meter time of 8.86. Brielle Johnson will also race, and Le’Trey Burton will compete for the men.
The Southland Indoor Championships will begin on Wednesday and conclude on Thursday evening.