Competition Wraps at 2017 Indoor Championships, Men Finish Second
POCATELLO, Idaho - Competition wrapped up at the 2017 Big Sky Conference Indoor Championships on Saturday afternoon, with the SUU men’s team finishing second in the field and the women finishing 11th.
SUU’s Kasey Knevelbaard started the day off on the right foot, claiming the Big Sky Championship in the men’s mile. He ran a 4:06.25. Knevelbaard finished first, and Josh Collins finished in third place to rack up several points for the Thunderbirds.
“I mean, this was the first time I had ever won a medal in college, that was big for me,” Knevelbaard said about his performance. “It felt good. I did it decisively. I felt strong, I felt fit, I felt fast and I was really happy with it. To go home with a Big Sky title is super exciting.”
George Espino claimed his individual Big Sky Championship in the 800-meter, with a new school record time of 1:48.83 (converted). Knevelbaard finished third in that event.
At the conclusion of the meet, Espino was named Men’s Outstanding Performer by the Big Sky Conference.
“I was really just hoping to go for a fast time,” Espino said about his mindset going into the race. “I had no expectation, I just knew I wanted to run fast today. I wasn’t going for a win, I was just here with the other guys in the competition hoping to run fast.”
Thunderbird hurdler Devon Montgomery set a brand new school record in the 60-meter hurdles, finishing in a time of 8.05 and finishing second overall at the event.
“I was super happy after the race,” the sophomore hurdler said. “I cried a little bit, I was trying to hide it. I was excited, I’ve been working for it since last year.”
Montgomery went on to say that he thinks the team will be able to come out with a different fire once this meet rolls around in the outdoor season.
“It was a good showing, we had a few lapses, but that's alright,” he said. “We did good now, but in outdoor we’ll be looking to take home that title.”
Not to be outdone, the women’s 4x400 relay team set a new school record as well. They finished the second heat of the event with a 3:47.10. This surpassed the previous mark of 3:47.53, which was set in 2015. The group of four girls was Mia Russell, Carly Dalton, Peyton Green and Linnea Saltz.
“I feel as if we all work really well with each other to get better,” Saltz said about the group. “We have a really good balance of speed, stamina and strength and strategically place each other in the race based off of our strengths.”
SUU’s men’s 4x400 team finished seventh to get on the scoreboard.
Freshman Tre James was awarded the silver medal in the men’s 60-meter dash, earning All-Conference status.
Brandan Harley also earned All-Conference honors in the 400-meter dash, finishing in third.
In the women’s mile SUU’s Sharlie Dimick earned All-Conference status by finishing third with a converted 4:47.67. Senior Josie Riggs also scored points in the event by finishing seventh.
In the men’s 3,000-meter Matt Wright, Knevelbaard and Collins finished fourth, fifth and sixth respectively to score for the Thunderbirds.
In the women’s 3,000-meter Dimick ran a converted 9:44.41, which puts her fifth all-time for Southern Utah.
Saltz finished fourth in the women’s 400-meter, with a converted time of 55.67 also put her fifth all time for the T-Birds.
As a team the Thunderbird men finished with 100 points, which was 29.5 off of the Conference Championship.
Southern Utah and Northern Arizona were neck and neck for the majority of the meet, but NAU used a strong 3,000-meter performance to pull away.
“Each one of those races is a testimony to our spirit to fight, train and dream big,” SUU head coach Eric Houle said about the performance. “We bring fire to the competition, and it was a fight all the way to the end. But when you’re up against the cross country national champs, it’s hard to get points in some areas. The Big Sky is not a mid-major conference, this is a major conference in track and field, so for us to compete at this level in this conference is a credit for everything we’re doing, what the administration is doing for us, and it was a glorious meet for us.”
The women’s team finished in 11th with 28.5 points, which was a big improvement from the same meet last season. The Lumberjacks also won the meet on the women’s side.
“The conference is really tough, and our women are really young, but when you look up and down the different events they scored really well,” Houle said. “We’re making headway. We scored a whole lot more points and we’re moving forward.”For all things SUU track and field follow @SUUTrackandxc on Twitter and Instagram and like the Southern Utah Track and XC page on Facebook.