SEATTLE, Wash./FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Jan. 30 - Southern Utah's Cameron Levins ran a race for the ages as the junior recorded the Thunderbirds first sub four-minute mile at the Washington Invitational on Saturday night. Levins' race highlighted Southern Utah's success in Washington as the T-Birds also recorded solid finishes at the Mountain T's Invitational in Flagstaff.
"This performance today is one of the most memorable moments in SUU history," head coach Eric Houle said of the race. "When Roger Bannister ran under four minutes the world thought it could have never been done, and Cam has added his name to that elite group."
Levins' time of 3:59.80 was only four seconds off of a first-place time as the Canadian pressed the top of the pack into a track record during the meet. Levins was the second collegiate runner to finish the race and recorded one of only seven provisional NCAA National qualifying times and one of only four athletes to run under the four-minute threshold.
Southern Utah turned heads in other events at the Nationally-dominated meet as Sharla Manuele blazed to a school-record time in the women's 3,000-meters, finishing in fourth place and recording a provisional NCAA qualifying mark with a time of 9:25.21. The mark was nearly 20 seconds faster than the previous school record in the event, a mark set by Manuele in 2008. Manuele was the second collegiate athlete to finish the race and was seconds behind Colorado's All-American Allie McLaughlin who finished in third place with a time of 9:23.31.
SUU sprinters also provided highlights as Kodai Kusano advanced to the finals of the men's 60-meter hurdles, finishing in seventh place with a time of 8.39 seconds. Austin Hill finished as the first collegiate runner in the men's 400-meters with a season-best time of 48.04. Christina Day shined in the women's 400-meters, finishing in fifth-place with a season-best time of 56.56. Day later returned in the women's 4x400-meter relay to help the team to a fifth-place finish in that event with a time of 3:56.44.
In Flagstaff, Southern Utah was able to tally three individual titles as Whitney Singleton (women's shot put, 43-1.75), Wade Nielson (men's high jump, 6-8.75) and Steffi Minson (women's 3,000-meters, 11:21.81) finished at the top of their respective events.
Adrienne Hill's throw of 41 feet 9.75 inches in the women's shot put gave the Thunderbirds a one-two finish in that event as Neilson came back in the men's long jump to finish in third place with a mark of 21 feet 6.75 inches. He was edged out by teammate Kyle Kopp, who finished in second place, with a mark of 21 feet 10.25 inches.
Daney Nelson's leap of six feet 4.75 inches in the high jump tied the mark for second place, but a judges decision pushed the sophomore to third place.
On the track, Kirsten Sly and Kaylee Coates finished a close second in the women's mile and 800-meters, respectively as the duo ran to second-place times of 5:28.43 and 2:22.76. Coates' time was .73 seconds away from a ribbon-breaking finish.
Shelli Richardson recorded a second strong finish in the women's 3,000-meters as the freshman ran in the faster heat of the race to finish in second place with a time of 10:54.80. Richardson was one of three Thunderbirds in the top five of the women's 3,000-meter invitational race as Sly finished fourth (10:58.27) and Jamie Smith finished in fifth with a time of 11:18.61.
Southern Utah track and field will be back in action next weekend when the Thunderbirds split for a second consecutive meet with competitions in Idaho and Arizona.