McNeese State excels at indoor conference meet

“We let the bridle off the horses.” That was the statement from McNeese Track and Field Head Coach Brendon Gilroy after his runners dominated the men’s 3,000-meters by taking four of the top five places, picking up 25 points in the process and securing second place at the 2017 Southland Conference Indoor Track and Field C h a m p i o n s h i p s Thursday afternoon. It’s the highest finish since the first league indoor meet in 1980 when the Cowboys also placed second. The Cowboys totaled 120 points, a school record for an indoor meet, and won six gold medals in the two-day event, also a school record. In addition, distance runner Nathan Jones was presented the league’s Men’s High Point Scorer Award after collecting 20 points by winning gold in the 5 , 0 0 0 - m e t e r s Wednesday and the 3,000-meters Thursday. He’s just the second Cowboy athlete to receive the award (David Rooney in 2013). Overall, McNeese possessed seven team gold medals, tying the 1999 school record. The Cowgirls finished in sixth place with 44 points, just 11 points outside the top five. “We had a lot of athletes step up and rise to the challenge,” Gilroy said in a news release. “The team, as
a whole, was full of support for everyone.” McNeese’s men entered the day in first place in the team standings but quickly were over taken by Sam Houston State, the 2017 champions, once the sprint finals began. H o w e v e r, t h e Cowboys got gold medal performances by John Lemke in the triple jump with a personal record mark of 512.25 and Christoph Graf in the mile run at 4:11.86 to put them in reach of overtaking Stephen F. Austin for second place. They needed the horses to run in the 3,000-meters to have a chance. Led by Jones, who clocked a personal record of 8:17.77 to win the event, McNeese totaled 25 points in the event to take over second place. Oliver James won a bronze medal with a thirdplace time of 8:19.16, also a PR, while Graf placed fourth with a time of 8:23.02 and Enrique Soto was fifth at 8:23.46. McNeese followed that by running the fastest time in the 4x400-meter relay under Gilroy’s watch with a fifth-place showing and a time of 3:16.50. Sam Houston won the men’s title with 142.50 points, followed by McNeese at 120. Stephen F. Austin finished third with 117.5. On the women’s side, Nicole Casper became the first Cowgirl pole vaulter to win gold at the league indoor meet
after she cleared 134.25 to win a jump off. Casper was the only Cowgirl athlete to stand on the podium for the day but several others contributed by collecting scores. Crystal Coulter set a new PR in the high jump at 5-4.25 to finish tied for fourth place with teammate Ashley Johnson. Maegan Moore finished sixth in the 200 meters with a time of 24.81, while Katja Woelfl was also sixth in the 3,000-meters with a PR of 10:02.91. Alison Smegal ran a PR of 5:07.63 to finish seventh in the mile run, and Mia Robinson placed seventh in the 400 meters with a time of 58.83. Other scorers for the men saw Jalson Charles post a PR in the 400 meters with a fourth-place time of 58.83. Olandis Johnson finished fourth in the 800 meters with a 1:52.10; Tyler Smith was sixth in the 200 meters at 21.83 and was also sixth in the 60 meters with a PR time of 6.83; and Nemanja Koviljac placed seventh in the triple jump at 48-2.75. Sam Houston State finished off the sweep by winning the women’s team title with 127 total points to beat Lamar (97) and Northwestern State (96). Locally, Berwick High alum and McNeese State competitor Kennedy Sampey finished 11th with a leap of 10 feet, 10.75 inches.

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