Jags Win Women's Track and Field Championship

Posted on May 16, 2016
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South's women's track and field program won its first outright Sun Belt Conference Outdoor Championship, totaling 132 points. USA shared the crown in 1999 with Louisiana Tech. data-lightbox='featured'
South's women's track and field program won its first outright Sun Belt Conference Outdoor Championship, totaling 132 points. USA shared the crown in 1999 with Louisiana Tech.

LAFAYETTE, La. – Ashley Heitling and Joanna McCoy recorded top-five finishes Sunday night in the women's 5,000-meter run, and in the process clinched the team title at the 2016 Sun Belt Conference Outdoor Championship for the University of South Alabama women's track and field program.

The two finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the final individual race of the meet at the Ragin' Cajuns Track/Soccer Facility, giving the Jaguars 132 points. Arkansas State was able to close to within three points after placing fourth in the 4x400-meter relay, while Texas State was third with 120 points.

It is the women's program's first outright Sun Belt championship, as USA shared the crown in 1999 with Louisiana Tech. The Jaguars also claimed the league cross country championship in the fall.

Two Jags — Jan-Louw Kotze and Sean Collins — won events to highlight five all-SBC performances on the last day of the championship by the men's squad, which recorded 138 points in posting a runner-up finish; it's the third time in the last 12 years that the team has finished second at the championship. Arkansas State earned the championship with 149½ points, with Texas State third 20 points behind the Jaguars.

"I think what happened was the women went out and did what they were supposed to do, they did what they are capable of doing. In the events that we had a chance to score points, we did," USA head coach Paul Brueske said. "There weren't any letdowns, the girls went out and really got after it. It was a good overall team effort, I am very proud of them.

"It was real close, if one or two things go a little different for us I think we could have won the men's championship as well. It wasn't a lack of effort, we just came up a little short. I'm real proud of the guys, they worked and fought hard."

McCoy was also fourth in the 1,500 meters, finishing just over three seconds behind teammate Laura Labuschaigne, who was all-SBC in the event after crossing the line second with a time of 4:30.53. Heitling and McCoy picked up all-league honors in the 10,000-meter run on the first day of the meet as well.

Kaitlyn Beans earned the women's lone victory on Sunday after equaling her school standard in the triple jump with a 13.19m mark, winning the event while collecting all-conference accolades. Kriszti Szabo and Taylor Young were fifth and sixth, respectively, with the former finishing with a mark of 12.27m and the latter jumping a career-best 12.24m.

Berta Lucas matched her personal-best time of 13.83 seconds in the finals of the women's 100-meter hurdles — the senior ranks second on the school's all-time performance list in the event — to place fourth. Marina Swanepoel posted a clocking of 1:03.00 to end up sixth in the women's 400-meter hurdles, with Phoebe Dowson sixth in the women's discus after recording a season-best 48.99m mark.

Kotze was the winner of the men's discus for the fourth consecutive year, as his mark of 58.52m was over four meters further than the next closest competitor, with the performance coming a day after the senior scored points for the Jaguars by finishing fourth in the shot put. Collins earned his first-ever victory and all-league honors at a conference outdoor championship, setting school, Sun Belt and meet records after recording a height of 5.51m.

Christoph Graf and Patrick Rohr both scored in the men's 1,500-meter run, with Graf posting a time of 3:54.43 to finish just .13 seconds ahead of Louisiana-Lafayette's Matt Rice and .38 seconds in front of Rohr. It was the second race in which both Jags scored over the weekend, with Graf adding a sixth-place result in the 800 meters later in the day.

Also earning all-conference accolades for the men was Larry Lombard in the 400-meter hurdles, as the freshman ended up in third place with a time of 53.01 seconds.

Neil Giliomee and Ty Holenbeck both cleared 4.96m in the pole vault — it was a career-best mark for the latter — in finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, based on number of attempts, while Lezyon Legarde was sixth in the men's triple jump with a distance of 14.79m.

Rafael Scott finished fifth in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes, ending the first race with a time of 10.41 seconds and the second with a 21.41 second mark. In the men's 110-meter hurdles, Ravaughn Pope was sixth after recording a time of 14.54 seconds, with Mark Watts coming in seventh place in the men's 400-meter dash after crossing the line in 48.07 seconds.

Matt Weinhold supplied a pair of points with a career-best 51.10m throw in the men's discus, ending up seventh in the event, while Lane Adams' career-best 1.97m mark in the men's high jump was good for an eighth-place finish and a point for the team as well.

"When you look at both the men's and women's programs, I don't think we've ever had a better outdoor meet combined," Brueske said. "If you look at the big picture of men's and women's cross country, indoor and outdoor combined programs, I don't think any other school did as well as us in the conference this year."

For those in the program who qualify, the NCAA East Region Preliminaries will be held in Jacksonville, Fla., May 26-28.

For more information about South Alabama athletics, check back with www.usajaguars.com, and follow the Jaguars at www.twitter.com/USAJaguarSports. Season tickets for all Jaguar athletic events can be purchased by calling (251) 461-1USA (1872).

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