Southern Utah University track and field closed out their indoor season on Feb. 24-25 at the Western Athletic Conference Championships. Their outdoor season kicked off Friday, March 10, at the Utah Tech Invite.
The Thunderbirds hope to carry the momentum of a successful indoor season to a far busier outdoor schedule in the upcoming months.
Featuring strong times, high marks and shattered records, SUU’s first indoor season in the WAC yielded solid results.
For the conference championships in Spokane, Washington, the men’s team took third, losing by a sliver to No. 2 Stephen F. Austin State University in a 100-99 showdown. Scoring 59 points, the women’s team tied with Abilene Christian University for sixth place.
The Thunderbirds also snatched up the title of WAC Champions in five events. Junior Joren McKeever locked in an undefeated season and his second indoor conference title in the high jump, squashing the competition with a monstrous 7 1/4 foot leap. Astley Davis racked up recognition with a 50-9 ¼ triple jump that capped an award-winning performance. Crowned Men’s Outstanding Field Performer and Men’s Freshman of the Year, Davis is on the rise.
SUU dominated the mile with an incredible combination of endurance and raw speed. Sophomore Santiago Gaitan pulled off a first-place finish for the men with a 4 minute 5.46 second race. For the women, junior Madisan DeBos narrowly stole first with a 4:55.74 to finish ahead of second-place teammate Haley Tanne.
With the indoor school record-breaking time of 3:45.08, the women’s 4×400 relay team secured the final of SUU’s five indoor titles to close out the final meet of their winter season.
Utah Tech Invite
The outdoor season kicked off at the Utah Tech Invite, but even in their rival’s territory, the Thunderbirds started the season off strong.
SUU’s 4×100 teams were on fire, breaking records in both the men’s and women’s races. The men’s team posted a 40.33, taking the top spot in the meet and in the program’s record book. The women’s team left their mark at the top of SUU’s record book as well, with their time of 44.50 crushing the competition.
Powerful performances from the rest of the team filled the meet and indicated strength leading into their upcoming schedule.
SUU has consistently improved, developed and broken records throughout the last three months, and they hope to continue the trend in their first outdoor season in the WAC. Along with their conference champions, the Thunderbirds are preparing several competitors that opponents will have to watch out for.
With plenty of time left to reach their peaks, juniors Secret Mceuen and Ricardo White are already on the verge of topping several SUU sprint records. The men’s team also packs an astounding punch when it comes to their mile squad, with six athletes in the top 12 for indoor mile times.
In the jumping events, the men’s field team holds plenty of young talent, including sophomores Cedar English and Christopher Kappen. For the women, sophomore Ajia Hughes rarely fails to impress. She leaped to SUU’s all-time second-place in the triple jump with a distance of 38-4 3/4.
Several Thunderbirds also performed particularly well in men’s discus and women’s javelin to start the season, so fans should expect growth in those areas throughout the upcoming months.
SUU will attempt to top more records on a trip to the Utah Valley Spring Invite on March 23-24.
Story by: Kale Nelson
Photos courtesy of SUU Athletics