Shorter repeats again as Mid-South Men and Women's T&F champs
RIO GRANDE, Ohio – Shorter University’s dominance of the Mid-South Conference in men and women’s track and field was reinforced this past weekend at the conference championships.
Now, completing the journey towards a historic first national championship in outdoor track is next on the list.
The Hawks and Lady Hawks raced their way to a respective fourth and third consecutive Mid-South Conference outdoor track championship on the campus of the University of Rio Grande this past weekend.
The men won 15 of 22 events en route to the title, amassing a team total of 240 points – 94 points better than runner-up Campbellsville University. The Hawks have now won the team title every year since joining the Mid-South Conference during the 2007-08 season.
The women won 13 events to take the title, totaling 260.5 points to finish exactly 100 points ahead of Campbellsville in the final standings.
Shorter head coach Scott Byrd, the 2011 NAIA Indoor Track National Coach of the Year, added to his trophy case after being voted on by his peers as the 2011 Mid-South Outdoor Track and Field Coach of the Year.
For the Hawks, the dominance came in every portion of the competition.
In the sprints, Shorter swept the 100-meter dash with Albert Huntley (10.75), Travis Benton (10.88) and Shaun Kennedy (11.00) posting a Shorter 1-2-3 finish, respectively.
Kennedy’s preliminary time of 10.74 was a national qualifying time. Kennedy, the school record holder in the 100, is the fourth member of the team to qualify for the national championships in the event, the most the school has ever sent in one season.
Benton nearly recorded a personal best in the 200-meter dash, running a 21.14 to ease away from the field. Albert Huntley (21.81) and Nigel Talton (22.14) completed the 1-2-3 finish in the 200 for the Hawks.
Randall Dameron, a runner-up one year ago in the 400-meter dash, won this time out by over a second with a time of 48.16. Talton came in fourth with his time of 50.64.
Trebor Holmes and Nick Dodson took titles in the 110-meter and 400-meter hurdles. Holmes, one of the nation’s best in the long jump, took top honors in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 15.20. Kareem Hawkins gained points for the Hawks with his third place finish in the 110-meter hurdles in a time of 15.70.
Dodson, the lone Hawk in the long hurdles, came away with yet another victory. The senior, a three-time Mid-South champion and three-time national runner-up in the 400 hurdles, closed out his conference career with a fourth title, cruising to a win by nearly 10 seconds. His time of 52.57 was never contested – he was the only competitor to run the race in under one minute.
In distance competition, Eliud Ng’etich won the 800-meter run in 1:55.94 while running in the slower of the two heats.
Freshman sensation Paul Chelimo won the 1,500-meter and 10,000-meter runs. His 1,500-meter time of 3:53.17 was followed by Edgar Santoyo’s fourth place (4:03.08) and Peter Limo’s fifth place (4:04.81) finishes.
Chelimo’s 10,000-meter time (30:55.80) was closely followed by Oscar Ogwaro and his second place time of 31:29.97. Nicolas Toscan, in his first race of the season, claimed fourth place with a 31:15.08 clocking – Toscan’s time was another qualifier.
Limo added another gold medal to his collection, winning the 5,000-meter run in 15:13.79. Doug Kalmbach, who began his day by becoming the first Shorter athlete to compete in the 5,000-meter race walk where he took sixth place (30:59.31), took eighth place in the 5,000-meter run with a 16:12.83 finish.
Shorter’s men also set the tone in the relays, taking all three relay events with relative ease.
Dodson, Kennedy, Albert Huntley and Benton ran through the competition in the 4x100-meter relay in 40.61.
Dodson, Kennedy and Benton then ran alongside Talton to claim the 4x400-meter relay title in 3:19.83. The distance team of Ng’etich, Limo, Ogwaro and Chelimo took the final relay of the meet, the 4x800, with a time of 7:54.66.
In the field, Montagious Brown closed out his conference career undefeated in the high jump, clearing 6 feet, 8 inches to win the conference championship. Teammate Braylon Williams finished as runner-up, just missing qualifying for nationals with a 6-foot, 6-inch performance.
Robert Harvey took double honors in the shot put and discus. His toss of the 16-pound shot broke his own school record as well as the conference record as it traveled 50 feet, 6.75 inches. To end his meet, Harvey won the discus title in a conference record throw of 144 feet, 5 inches.
Justin Griffin threw to a sixth place finish in his final championship competition, throwing 141 feet, 1 inch.
Craig Scott, a member of the Shorter football team, earned third place with his performance in the long jump, going 21 feet, 11.75 inches. He then took sixth place in the triple jump with a leap of 40 feet, 0.75 inches.
Calvin Gibson, a four-year member of the team, came to the meet attempting the triple jump for the first time and walked away with points for the team. His 36-foot, 5.75-inch performance garnered eighth place.
For the Shorter women it was a sign of things to come at the national meet, where the Lady Hawks will most certainly be a favorite to win it all.
Like the men, the Lady Hawks won all five events in the sprints and hurdles.
Brittany Sewell kick started the weekend with a victory in the 100-meter dash. Her winning time of 12.36 was followed by teammate Lakeisha Spikes (12.41), who took runner-up accolades.
Jasmine Jackson just missed out on a 1-2-3 Shorter sweep, placing fourth in 12.75.
Ashlie Stewartson (24.74) won a close 200-meter dash race over Spikes (24.95) and Sewell (24.96). Stewartson then took the 400-meter dash title for the second straight year – her time of 56.83 was just ahead of teammate Mia Jones and her 57.97.
Vanderlyn Watts tied her own school record in the 100-meter hurdles, crossing in a championship time of 14.42. Tamala Daley (15.23) took second place in her first hurdle race of the outdoor season and Jessica Coons, a three-time champion in the event, claimed fourth place in 15.74.
Kennisha Holden successfully defended her 400-meter hurdle crown, leading the Shorter sweep at 1:02.30. Holden was followed by Watts (1:04.35) and Coons (1:05.82).
In the distance competition, Sha’Doris Godwin ran a tough 800-meter race, earning third place in 2:24.67. Sarah Massey was close behind, taking fifth in 2:25.33 and Courtney Pike claimed eighth place with her time of 2:29.14.
Massey came back to win the 1,500-meter run in 4:45.89. Pike matched her 800-meter result with another eighth place finish (5:13.65).
Freshmen Shea Spicher and Katie Rutledge ran to sixth and eighth place finishes, respectively, in the 5,000-meter run. Spicher’s time of 19:10.59 bested Rutledge’s 19:53.94.
Justyna Mudy, Shorter’s most decorated female athlete and a five-time individual national champion, opened her season running to a second place finish in the 10,000-meter run. Her time of 37:10 was good enough to get her to the national championships where she will try and become one of the few NAIA athletes to win six individual national championships.
Rutledge ran to a fifth place finish in the 10,000 in a time of 42:16.
In the multis, Shorter swept a new event to the 2011 championships – the heptathlon.
The Lady Hawks dominated the event, which consists of several sub-events calling for athletes to master different track and field disciplines. Mariah Freeman emerged as the inaugural Mid-South champion, winning with a total of 3,998 points. Keiera Haggins took second with 3,785 points and Makiala Houseworth finished third with 3,226 points.
In the relays, for the third consecutive year, the Lady Hawks took all three titles.
Daley, Stewartson, Sewell and Spikes won the 4x100-meter relay in 47.17.
Stewartson then joined up with Holden, Watts and Jones to win the 4x400 relay in 3:50.78, more than 10 seconds faster than the nearest competitor.
Godwin, Pike, Chantelle Deacon and Massey completed the relay sweep, taking the gold medal in 4x800 in a time of 9:55.21, again more than 10 seconds ahead of second place.
In the field, the women’s long jump came down to the nation’s No. 1 and No. 2 jumpers, both members of the Shorter squad.
In the end, Daley outdueled Stewartson, jumping 19 feet, 9.75 inches for her first long jump title. Stewartson finished a mere inch behind, going 19 feet, 8.75 inches.
Daley continued her winning ways in the triple jump, leaping to a conference record 41 feet, 0.25 inches to finish six feet ahead of second place.
Freeman, already the heptathlon champion, added the high jump to her championship resume, clearing 5 feet, 1.25 inches.
Jasmine Cameron scored points for the team in the throws, placing third in the shot with a near personal best throw of 35 feet, 1.75 inches. She followed that up with a sixth place finish in the discus, tossing the disc 109 feet, 2 inches – a personal best for the junior.
Haggins and Houseworth earned the last points for the Lady Hawks, taking fifth and seventh, respectively, in the javelin. Haggins launched the javelin 86 feet, 3 inches while Houseworth achieved a throw of 85 feet, 10 inches. Both performances were personal bests.
Stewartson and Daley capped the weekend by sharing Mid-South Women’s Track and Field Athlete of the Year honors after tying with an event-best 28 points.
The teams now prepare for the national championships, which are less than a month away.
Shorter will travel a small group to Clemson University for the Bob Pollock Spring Invitational, which gets underway on May 7 at noon.