Courtesy: John Maxwell
RIVERSIDE, Calif. - March 29 - Southern Utah’s men finished second in a field of 10 teams at the UC Riverside Spring Track Classic, posting 101 points total. The women’s team placed fourth with a score of 93.
“Overall, this was a really good meet for us,” head coach Eric Houle said. “To see these kinds of performances, with the team scores, qualifiers, school records and stadium records, really shows what our athletes are capable of.”
Kayla Kovar led the throwers once again, posting first-place finishes in the hammer, discus and shot put. Kovar improved her previous school record in the hammer by more than 12 feet, posting a Big Sky-qualifying mark of 178-1.. Her mark currently ranks eighth in NCAA Division I. The senior broke UC Riverside’s stadium record in both the hammer throw and the shot put, with respective marks of 205-11 and 52-4.5.
Teammate Whitney Singleton broke into Southern Utah’s top ten in the shot put, improving her seventh-place record with a sixth-place mark of 44-10.75. Whitney Fairbanks led the women in the javelin with a third-place mark of 130-9.
Jayson Kovar concluded both of his throwing events with first place finishes, having posted a 53-9.75 in the shot put and 180-9 in the discus. Kovar’s discus mark ranks second in the T-Bird record books and qualifies him for a berth at the championship. Russell Nielson took the title in the men’s javelin with a 184-4 toss.
Seniors Shaye Maurer-Springall and Alex Anderson led the Thunderbirds in their first multi events of the outdoor season. Maurer-Springall posted a second-place individual finish in the heptathlon with a score of 5454, improving Southern Utah’s all-time record and qualifying for the Big Sky Championship in the event. She now ranks seventh in Division I in the multi event. She also recorded a conference qualifier in the 100-meter hurdles during the heptathlon with a first-place time of 13.68.
Anderson qualified for the conference championship in the decathlon with a third-place score of 6267. He posted top-two finishes in four of the 10 events, with first-place finishes in the 100-meter dash (11.10) and long jump (22-3), and second-place finishes in the 400-meters (50.37) and 110-meter hurdles (15.38). Russell Nielson placed 10th overall with 5504 points, recording first-place finishes in the decathlon javelin (187-1) and discus (139-5), as well as a second-place finish in the shot put (41-8). Nielson’s mark in the javelin also qualifies him for a spot at the championship.
Freshman Mike Tate led the Thunderbirds in the distance events at Riverside, placing first in the 3,000-meter run (8:22.60) and second in the 1,500-meter run (3:47.78). Tate’s 3,000-meters time stands as a new stadium record at UCR and ranks first in the school records, while his 1,500-meters finish ranks third and qualifies him for the conference championship.
Ryan Barrus followed close behind Tate in both events, finishing third in the 3,000-meters with a sixth-best school record time of 8:32.99 and fourth in the 1,500-meters with a fourth-best school record time of 3:48.68. Barrus’ 1,500-meters finish is also a Big Sky qualifier. Teammate Eric Sandall posted a qualifying time in the 800-meter run with a third-place finish and time of 1:53.05.
Ashley Hawks posted top-five finishes in both of her races, beginning with a conference-qualifying time of 4:33.93 with third-place finish in the 1,500-meters. Hawks also recorded a fourth-place time of 10:04.57 in the 3,000-meters, which ranks ninth in SUU’s top ten. Sierra Malm led the steeplechasers with a fourth-place time of 11:27.26, which also qualifies for the championship.
Arnold Carrillo and Shaun Murray were among the men’s sprinters and each recorded a qualifying time. Carrillo raced to a second-place finish in the 400-meter dash, recording a seventh-best SUU record time of 48.31, while Murray placed third in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.80.
Shaye Maurer-Springall returned from her second-place heptathlon finish to lead the field in the 100-meter hurdles, improving Southern Utah’s record for the second time in the same meet with a time of 13.66. Mayra Franco and Jamila Pullum each posted a qualifier on the women’s side and also broke into the school’s record book. Franco finished fifth in the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.05, which ties for seventh in SUU’s top ten. Pullum raced to a sixth-place finish in the 400-meters with a ninth-best T-Bird time of 56.69.
Pole vaulters Erin Stone and Lesli Kinkade also posted top-ten Southern Utah marks with their finishes at Riverside. Both women are now part of a three-way tie for fourth place after each cleared a height of 10-10.
UC Santa Barbara took the men’s title at the Highlanders-hosted meet, recording a combined score of 117. The Thunderbirds came in second with 101 points, followed by Cal State Northridge (99.5) and Cal State Fullerton (93.5) in third and fourth place. Cal State Northridge took the first-place position on the women’s side with 154.5 points, followed by Cornell (133.5) and North Dakota State (106.5) in second and third place. Southern Utah came in fourth with 93 points, with Cal State Fullerton placing fifth with 67.
The Thunderbirds will be back in action next weekend when the team splits between the Stanford Invitational and San Francisco State Distance Carnival, both set to take place April 4-5.