March 6, 2014
FRISCO – Sam Stabler and Louise Webb combined to play a role in six of Lamar’s eight event titles at last week’s Southland Indoor Track and Field Championships, and on Wednesday the duo was recognized by the league as each took home the conference’s athlete of the year award.
Stabler left no doubt as to whom the conference’s top athlete was in last week’s events. The Englishman started off the meet by setting a conference meet record for the mile during the preliminary heat, and then returned later in the day to run the anchor leg on a distance medley relay team that set a school, meet and facility record.
A day later, Stabler took became the third straight Cardinal to earn the individual championship in the mile, and then came back to win the 3,000 meter run. Stabler won all but one race in which he participated during indoor season, becoming the fastest miler in Southland history in the process with a converted time of 3:59.33 earlier in the year. Unfortunately for the junior, he narrowly missed qualification for NCAA Indoor Championships by one-tenth of a second. His time, which spent a week ranked No. 1 in the country, finished the season at No. 20.
“I’m happy with my season overall,” Stabler said. “It was very positive and there’s a lot to go forward with. Even though I didn’t make it to nationals, I can prepare for outdoor season instead. I think that cross country helped get me ready for this season. I may not have had the results that I wanted, but I had the base work done, which let me know the kind of training I needed to do for the shorter races on the track.”
Stabler, who was the league’s top point-scorer with 22.5, is the second-ever Cardinal to win the top men’s indoor honor, joining Francis Kasagule. Stabler was also named the Outstanding Track Performer, which was also won by Kasagule twice and most recently by Matt Johnsen in 2012.
“Sam accomplished almost everything possible this season except for making the national championships, and he just barely missed that,” head coach Trey Clark said. “Sam is a guy that has been around and worked hard, and he’s witnessed people be very successful. It was a next-man-up situation. It was his turn to perform, and he did.”
Webb was similarly impressive in the women’s meet. After qualifying for the 800 meter final on Wednesday, she ran the final leg of a dramatic distance medley relay in which the Lady Cards came from behind to win the program’s first championship in the event since 2008. The team missed out on a school record by a second.
On Thursday, Webb rode late surges to take home both the 800 and 3,000 meter crowns, finishing the meet with 22.5 points. The total is tied for the most in school history with former two-time Athlete of the Year Clerc Koenck. Webb was also named Outstanding Track Performer and became the first-ever Lady Card to win Newcomer of the Year.
“In the team, we have so many great athletes, and I’m kind of overwhelmed to win this,” Webb said. “I was very pleased with my cross country season, and I was a bit nervous going into indoors because I had never done it before. It was a whole new experience, and hopefully I can continue running and training well as I get ready for outdoors.”
“Louise is someone that has a lot of range, and we just tried to find out where she’d benefit us the most,” Clark explained. “The 800, 3,000 and DMR triple isn’t necessarily the easiest one to pull off, but she did a great job in all three events for us.”
Webb was the first athlete in conference history, male or female, to win both the 800 and 3,000 meter runs in a single meet.
Kayla de Bondt, who was also a member of the women’s distance medley relay team, was named Freshman of the Year. The Australian took home the mile crown with a time of 4:57.64, which was the fastest championship time for the event in four years.
“Kayla was very excited to get out on the track after cross season,” Clark said. “She went out there week in and week out and put it on the line every time. It wasn’t her season-best time last week, but it was probably her smartest race of the year. For a freshman to come in and score 12.5 points at her first indoor championship is a pretty big step for us and for her. She’s well on her way to being someone who wins multiple conference titles in her career.”
In all, six LU individuals were named all-conference in at least one event. Those performers include the aforementioned as well as 5,000 meter winner Ryan Creech, Aaron Bennett and Leigh Lattimore, who finished third in the 5,000 and second in the 3,000. Both distance medley relay teams and the women’s 4x400 meter relay team also took home conference honors.