Feb. 23, 2013
NORMAN, Okla. - It was an all-too-familiar sight at Mosier Indoor Facility during Saturday's Southland Conference Indoor Championships as Lamar distance runners once again put together a standout showing, led by mile champion Joe Wade and 3,000 meter champion Becky Gough.
Wade's championship was never in doubt as he collected his third individual title in the mile this season and his second consecutive conference crown. Overall, the Englishman has won six consecutive finals in the mile, last losing at the Leonard Hilton Invitational in January of 2011.
"It was great to see Joe repeat, especially in the fashion that he did," head coach Trey Clark said. "He led from start-to-finish, and he was never really challenged. It's always a good thing to win a title, but it's even better when you can defend it."
Wade, who recorded the fastest time in the event since 1998 at last year's championships, bettered the mark by .05 seconds this time around, completing the race in 4:08.80. The graduate student also went on to earn all-conference honors in the 3,000 meter run, finishing second and just 3.91 seconds off the pace of McNeese's David Rooney with a time of 8:27.68.
Gough had a similar story, winning the 3,000 meter race after taking home all-conference honors in the mile. The Birmingham, England, native was third in the mile event with a time of 5:02.55, and came back with a second consecutive 3K win, holding off Lauren Smith and Randi Plentl of Stephen F. Austin to finish in 10:10.05.
"I'm pretty excited for Becky's performance today," Clark said. "I think that showing in the mile really gave her some confidence for the 3,000. She ran a smart, patient race and took control of it when she needed to. This is a realization of all the hard work that she's put in for us, and it's great for her."
Earlier this month, Gough took home the Jeff Davis Invitational crown in both the mile and 3K to earn Southland Athlete of the Week honors.
As a team, the Lamar men finished seventh with 58 points, and the women were sixth with 56.5. SFA won both titles with 124 and 173 points, respectively.
"I'm really proud of the way that both teams performed," Clark explained. "Obviously, our goals were higher coming into the championships, but with the injuries we've had, I'm proud of the way the team really put it on the line. There were lots of athletes stepping up, and we're starting to score in more events. The freshmen and sophomores really brought it, and we're in pretty good shape going forward. The foundation is there. The team realizes what we're trying to do here, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how we do, not only in outdoor, but down the line as well."
Aside from Gough and Wade, a number of other distance runners took home honors on Saturday, led by the quartet of Sam Stabler, Michael Kershaw, Ryan Creech and Matt Johnsen.
Stabler and Kershaw made some noise in the mile as Stabler grabbed fourth place behind Wade and the McNeese pair of Alex Bruce-Littlewood and Martin Delguste with a time of 4:13.85. Kershaw just missed scoring, ending ninth at 4:23.62.
Creech and Johnsen were seventh and eighth, respectively, in the 3,000 meter run at 8:34.88 and 8:38.50.
Ashley Idunoba was once again an all-conference honoree, narrowly missing out on the crown in both the 60 and 200 meter dash events. In the 60, the Houston native finished .04 seconds behind Central Arkansas' Tanesha Maxwell with a time of 7.54 seconds. It was extraordinarily close in the 200 as Idunoba put up a time of 24:61, just .01 seconds short of SFA's Chasity Clark for first.
"Ashley ran two really good races," Clark said. "It was a two-heat final in the 200 and the champion came out of the other heat. I would've really liked to have seen her have a chance to run head-to-head, but that's the way it is with indoors. This was another weekend where she performed really well, and that's always a nice thing to see."
Elsewhere on the track, Zach Hicks and Saschelle Slaughter each earned fourth place finishes. Hicks, a freshman out of Diana, Texas, competed in the 200 and ended with a time of 21.99 seconds. Slaughter shaved nearly a second off her time from a day ago in the 400, finishing in 57.07 seconds.
"Zach is a guy with a lot of ability, and he works really hard," Clark said. "I'm not sure if many schools looked at him as a potential scorer at a conference meet, especially as a freshman, so to see him win his heat was great. He really stepped up, and Saschelle did as well. She is starting to believe in herself, and she saw an opportunity open up in front of her in today's race and took advantage of it. I'm very proud of her."
Lamar also picked up points from both 4x400 relay teams. The women's team of Sarah Shim, Shakevia Fleeks, Elzbieta Gawron and Chasity Peters finished sixth with a time of 3:59.07, and the men's team of Treyvon Davis, Zach Hicks, TaMar Hicks and Ronnie Whitty was seventh at 3:24.03.
In the field events, Johnathan Reece was the star, picking up second place in the high jump and matching his career-best by topping six feet, 8.75 inches. The freshman fell to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi's Roger De La Cruz, who put up a mark of six feet, 10.75 inches.
"I'll tell you what, Johnathan had the crowd up today," Clark said. "He's a high-energy guy, and it was a really great competition. He had some really fantastic jumps out there, and I'm excited to watch him in the future. There are a few minor things we need to work on, but after getting second place as a freshman, I think he has the ability to win some conference titles down the line."
Another freshman, Nick Fyffe also had a strong day, scoring in both the heptathlon and the triple jump. In the heptathlon, the Canadian recorded a time of 9.51 in the 60 meter hurdles and 3:14.30 in the 1,000 meter run to place 11th and ninth, respectively. He also topped 12 feet, 7.5 inches in the pole vault to finish sixth. Overall, he ended with a score of 4,398 to finish eighth. Fyffe's distance of 47 feet, 7.75 inches in the triple jump was good enough for seventh place.
Erin Brown, who moved into third place on LU's all-time performance list for long jump on Friday, grabbed a spot on the triple jump list on Saturday. The sophomore's distance of 37 feet, 11.25 moved her to fourth in school history and eighth in the event.