UVU track: Utah Valley men take second, women third at WAC Outdoor Championships
The Utah Valley University men's and women's track and field teams finished in second and third place, respectively, at their inaugural WAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday at the Hal Wing Track and Field in Orem. Junior Michael McPherson led the way for the Wolverines as he was named the Male Outstanding Field Performer of the Meet as well as the High Point Award winner by earning a total of 30 points.
"The WAC is a much tougher league than we've competed at in the past and it was nice to see how well our kids reacted to it," head coach Scott Houle said. "Individually, I was very pleased with how well all of the kids performed and hopefully this will help us springboard forward so that we'll be able to go after the titles next year."
The UVU men (158) finished two points ahead of Grand Canyon (156) to earn the second-place finish while the women finished in third with 128 points. Idaho took home both titles with 204 points on the men's side and 182.50 on the women's, while GCU came in second place on the women's side with 164 points.
The Wolverine men found themselves in third place late in the day, but a win by sophomore jumper Scott Moake in the men's high jump (2.08m) helped the Wolverines leapfrog the Antelopes in the standings. The UVU men then secured the second-place team finish in the final event of the day as the Wolverines' 4x400-meter relay squad earned a third-place finish in the event. The relay team of Kyler Sprague, Jacob Peterson, Trac Norris and Mike Keith set a school record in the process in the race with a blazing time of 3:12.75. The record was one of three school records that the Wolverines set during the meet.
McPherson, who broke one of those three UVU school records in the decathlon on Thursday by winning the event with 7,401 points, concluded his monster meet by taking second in the long jump (6.94m), third in the 200m (21.39) and fifth in the 100m (10.73), as well as running the final leg on his 4x100m relay team that took second (41.37). In all, McPherson competed in a whopping 16 events on the weekend.
"Michael McPherson was just unbelievable. To be able to win the multis and come back and take second in the long jump as well do what he did in the 100, 200 and 4x100, you just can't ask for more out of a kid," Houle said. "I was also impressed with how well a number of our distance runners did as well as Ashli Schulz's performance in the heptathlon the other day."
Behind Moake and McPherson's big outings, Sprague also had a solid day for the men's team as he took second in the 400m hurdles (51.59) and third in the 110m hurdles (14.70). Sprague's times were both fast enough for personal records for the freshman hurdler. Sophomore distance runner Trac Norris also continued his big meet with a second-place finish in the 800m run (1:51.72), a day removed from winning the 3000m steeplechase.
Other big finishes on the men's side on Saturday came from senior Chris Dorton (fourth, 1500m, 3:56.88), sophomore Jason Lynch (fourth, 5000m, 15:25.69 and sixth, 1500m, 3:58.73), sophomore Gary Hatch (fourth, 800m, 1:53.83), sophomore Logan Rusch (fifth, 200m, 21.83), Peterson (fifth, 110m hurdles, 14.84) and freshman Kyle Routsong (sixth, discus, 43.91m).
On the women's side, freshman Lauren Hicks broke the third school record of the meet for the Wolverines as she placed third in the triple jump with a record-breaking leap of 12.03m. The Wolverine women also had strong showings in the hurdles as well as the 400m dash as a number of personal records were set. In the 100m hurdles, senior Ali Shields and junior Jessica Lingwall finished second and third with respective times of 14.24 and 14.44 seconds, while sophomore Sam Sweet and freshman Sydney Bricker took fourth (55.78) and fifth (55.90), respectively, in the 400m.
Sophomore Aisha Graham and junior Ivie Gonsalves also had big performances in the women's 800m and 5000m runs by each placing second in the events. Graham earned her second-place finish in the 800 with a time of 2:13.37, while Gonsalves finished in second in the 5000 with a time of 17:53.00. That marked Gonsalves' second silver medal of the Championships, as she also took second in the 10,000m run on Thursday.
The senior Shields also concluded her busy meet for the women with a fifth-place finish in the triple jump with a mark of 11.70m, while freshman Bennie Foster posted a sixth-place finish in the pole vault by clearing 3.40m. The women's relay teams also placed third in the 4x400 and fifth in the 4x100 on Saturday.
With the regular season now over, UVU will sit back and await next week's NCAA selection show to see how many of its athletes have qualified for the NCAA West Preliminaries that will be held May 29-31 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. McPherson will also be hoping that his 7,401 total points in the decathlon are good enough to get him straight into the NCAA Championships that will run June 11-14 in Eugene, Oregon.
A year ago, the Wolverines sent five student-athletes to the NCAA Preliminary Rounds.
Final men's team scores
1. Idaho, 204
2. Utah Valley, 158
3. Grand Canyon, 156
4. Kansas City, 109
5. Texas-Pan American, 81
6. Seattle U, 56
7. Bakersfield, 40
8. Chicago State, 6
Final women's team scores
1. Idaho, 182.50
2. Grand Canyon, 164
3. Utah Valley, 128
4. New Mexico State, 120.50
5. Texas-Pan American, 81
6. Kansas City, 77
7. Seattle U, 41
8. Bakersfield, 13
9. Chicago State, 12
Men's individual awards (voted upon by the coaches)
Outstanding Track Performer: Lance Parker, Grand Canyon
Outstanding Field Performer: Michael McPherson, Utah Valley
Freshman of the Year: Arphaxad Carroll, Idaho
High Point Award Winner: Michael McPherson, Utah Valley, 30 pts.
Coach of the Year: Wayne Phipps, Idaho
Women's individual awards (voted upon by the coaches)
Outstanding Track Performer: Hannah Kiser, Idaho
Outstanding Field Performer: Vanessa Levy, Grand Canyon
Freshman of the Year: Katelyn Peterson, Idaho
High Point Award Winner: Hannah Kiser, Idaho, 30 pts.
Coach of the Year: Wayne Phipps, Idaho
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.
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