HAMMOND, La. – Head coach Phil Olson is calling it the ‘Miracle in Hammond’ after his track and field teams beat the odds and came from behind to sweep the 2015 Southland Conference Outdoor Championships on Sunday afternoon at the Southeastern Track and Field Complex. Both the men and women made a late charge to win in dramatic fashion.
The two team titles give the SFA track and field program four championships in 2015 after the ‘Jacks swept the indoor titles in February. The last time an SLC school won all four championships was in 2013 when SFA accomplished the feat.
The men finished the three-day meet with 153.5 team points to beat second-place Sam Houston State by 14 points. The women collected 148 points to slip past Sam Houston by 4.5.
The women scored 34 points in the final three events alone to complete their comeback. It all started with the women’s high jump as Melai Carter and Ashley Gadson went one/two to collect 18 points for SFA. Each jumper notched a clean jump at 5-8.5 (1.74m) to secure a Ladyjack champion. Down to her last attempt at the height, Gadson propelled herself over the bar to leapfrog over two competitors. Carter needed only two attempts to clear 5-8.5 to win the event.
Brittany Innis and Courtney High then came through with top eight finishes in the 5,000-meter run. Innis picked up four points for her fifth place finish (18:04.38) while High brought in two points by finishing seventh (18:15.29).
Finally, the Ladyjack 4x400 meter relay showed toughness and determination for 3:40.89 to edge Sam Houston for first place and clinch the team title. Tiffany Williams, Cierra Jefferson, Stephanie White and DeJernel Jordan teamed up in the event. White capitalized on a Bearkat dropped exchange on the third leg, passing Sam Houston early after the miscue. Jordan then fended off a late charge to help the Ladyjacks win with a season-best time.
The men also finished strong on Friday, winning the 4x400 meter relay with another season-best mark of 3:07.82. Will Gibson, Tedrick Hawkins, Josh Taylor and My’Lik Kerley beat the squad from Northwestern State by nine hundredths of a second to pick up 10 valuable points.
Jordan and Taylor also won individual titles for SFA in the women’s 800-meter run and the 400-meter hurdles. Jordan won the final 100-meter sprint in the women’s 800m to pass two competitors and win with a time of 2:09.96. Taylor broke his own school record in the 400mH, cruising his way to a 50.03-second clip.
In the field events, Jessica Spelling did her part to help the Ladyjacks by recording a huge personal record in the discus throw. Her best toss was measured at 160-3 (48.84m), which proved good enough for a second place finish.
On the men’s side, Lucas Akins completed the fifth-place trifecta with a 167-11.5 (51.19m) throw in the men’s discus. Akins finished an impressive week with fifth place performances in the shot put, javelin and the discus.
Daven Murphree led the Lumberjacks in the vertical jumps on Sunday, using a jump of 16-6 (5.03m) to take third in the men’s pole vault competition. Murphree also finished in the top three during the SLC indoor meet in February.
Like on the women’s side, the SFA men squeezed two in the top five of the high jump. Kerley and Bryce Willard each cleared 6-7.5 (2.02m) on their final of three allotted attempts. Kerley finished fourth overall after displaying clean jumps at each of the lower bars, while Willard tied for fifth.
During a significant stretch during the middle of the afternoon, SFA lived on the medal stand. White broke her own school record in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 59 seconds flat. The mark was good enough for a second place finish. White also got third in the 100-meter hurdles posting a time of 13.55 seconds.
Freshman Kerry Gleason, who took seventh in the 400m hurdles, got third in the 110-meter hurdles. He earned his place on the podium by one hundredth of a second at 14.38 seconds.
Kerley posted a personal best time of 46.51 seconds in the 400-meter dash and Cierra Jefferson was clocked at 55.91 seconds for the women to take second and third in their respective races. Tiffany Williams’ time of 56.74 seconds was good for fifth for the women.
Jared Love kept the trend alive by taking third in the men’s 100-meter dash. He proved he was one of the fastest men in the Southland Conference by his PR time of 10.41 seconds.
In one of the final events of the day, the SFA men loaded the top eight of the 5,000-meter run. One day after winning the 10k crown, Charles Mathenge took second with a time of 14:37.64. After that, Colby Mehmen (fourth), Cody Brown (fifth) and Weisheit (eighth) found their way into point-earning positions out of a 41-man field. SFA took 18 points in the event overall.
Other point earners for the ‘Jacks on Sunday included the men’s 4x100 meter relay team of Charles Fentress, Love, Hawkins and Trevon Caudle (sixth), Rana Ryan and Taylor Anderson (fifth/sixth – 1,500m), Jeffrey Weisheit (fourth – 1,500m), Bria McIver (seventh – 100mH), Tasia Williams and Valerie Osamar (sixth/eighth – 400mH), Aliyah Davis (seventh – 200m), and Kami Stockett (eighth – discus).
SFA’s qualifying athletes will know focus on preparation for the NCAA east regional rounds starting on May 29.
##FINAL MEN’S TEAM STANDINGS
- Stephen F. Austin 153.5
- Sam Houston State 139.5
- Southeastern La 119.5
- Abilene Christian 85
- Lamar 62
- Central Arkansas 60
- Northwestern State 59.5
- McNeese State 54
- Incarnate Word 31
- Houston Baptist 26
- New Orleans 15
- Corpus Christi 12
##FINAL WOMEN’S TEAM STANDINGS
- Stephen F. Austin 148
- Sam Houston State 143.5
- Northwestern State 90
- Lamar 84
- McNeese State 82
- Abilene Christian 59
- Southeastern La 48
- Corpus Christi 45
- Houston Baptist 36
- New Orleans 29
- Incarnate Word 27.5
- Central Arkansas 14
- Nicholls 11