STERLING, Ill. — The Utah Valley University men's and women's indoor track and field teams cruised to their first ever Great West Conference Championships Sunday at the Westwood Sports Complex.
"It's nice to get an indoor because it has always eluded us," UVU coach Scott Houle said. "Never having done that before brings new excitement for us."
The women, who scored 240 points, won by 121 points, while the men, who scored 220 points, won by 101 points.
Behind the UVU women, North Dakota finished second with 119 points, followed by Houston Baptist (118), Seattle (79), Texas-Pan American (44), NJIT (22) and Chicago State (17).
Behind the UVU men, Houston Baptist finished second with 119 points, followed by North Dakota (81.5), Chicago State (81), Texas-Pan American (70), Seattle (57.5) and Chicago State (23).
Along with the titles, the Wolverines walked away with several individual awards as well: Zandrea Nelson, Female Athlete of the Championship; Michael McPherson, Male Athlete of the Championship; Rusty Jones, Newcomer of the Year, and Houle was named the Coach of the Year.
"We were much stronger this year and the kids know how to prepare themselves for back-to-back 12-hour days," Houle said. "We are a much bigger and stronger team."
Three school records and numerous personal records fell in the two-day event.
Matt Williams broke a 14-year-old pole vault record with a vault of 15 feet, 3 inches; Joshua McCabe set a new school record in the 5000m (14:39.17), and for the third time this year, Ali Shields broke the school record in the triple jump at 36-3, which was good for second place.
In all, the Wolverines placed first in 18 events: McCabe (5000m, 14:39.17); Angela Baker (5000m, 17:36.27 and 3000m 10:07.03); Rusty Jones (heptathlon, 4,799 and high jump, 6-9); Jessie Lingwall (pentathlon, 3,269 and 60H, 8.94); Williams (pole vault, 15-3); Michael McPherson (long jump, 23-0); Makira Rackham (high jump, 5-3.75); Allah Laryea-Akrong (200m, 22.33 and 60m, 6.80); Zandrea Nelson (400m, 56.78); Shelise Walker (800m, 2:14.63); Aleina Eisenhauer-Winger (mile, 4:57.36); Chris Dorton (mile, 4:21.61); Nelson, Rebecca Renshaw, Lexie Esplin, Megan Burr (4x400, 3:53.71); Jacob Brydson, McPherson, Tim Rowberry, Skylar Burningham(4x400, 3:22.56).
Also, the Wolverines finished second 10 times: Nicholas Taylor (60m, 6.85); Anna Yeboah (60m, 7.78); Megan Burr (200m, 25.71); Sklyar Burningham (400m, 49.61); Eisenhauer-Winger (800m, 2:16.30); Becca Hutton (shot put, 41-5.25); Autumn Robertson (high jump, 4-11.75); Michael Ashton (high jump, 4-11); Esplin (pentathlon, 3,095); McPherson (heptathlon, 4,681).
Women's team scores
1 Utah Valley 240
2 North Dakota 119
3 Houston Baptist 118
4 Seattle U. 79
5 Texas-Pan American 44
6 New Jersey Institute 22
7 Chicago State 17
Men's team scores
1 Utah Valley 220
2 Houston Baptist 119
3 North Dakota 81.5
4 Chicago State 81
5 Texas-Pan American 70
6 Seattle U. 57.50
7 New Jersey Institute 23
Jay Hinton is a sports information assistant at Utah Valley University