T&F: Men's track smashes way to Sun Belt crown
Feb. 25, 2014
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The UT Arlington men's indoor track and field team picked up its first league team title since 2000 by taking the crown at the Sun Belt Conference Championships in record-setting fashion. It was the ninth indoor league title in school history.
The Mavericks scored 185 points to easily outpace two-time defending champion Western Kentucky (149) by 36 points. The Mavs' overall point total broke a 20-year-old conference meet record.
"It was a total team effort," UTA coach John Sauerhage said. "We had a lot of kids come through with peak performances at the right time. That's how you win a championship--everyone comes through. It's very satisfying to have a team compete to their ability and come out on top. We couldn't be prouder."
UTA had last won a title in 2000 as a member of the Southland Conference. This win comes on the heels of a men's cross country championship in the fall. UTA will now set its sights on its first-ever "triple crown", which means winning the cross country, indoor and outdoor titles in the same academic year.
A pair of distance runners that were part of the cross country victory again proved to be key cogs in the Mavericks' lineup.
Emil Blomberg, who took home high point scorer honors with 28 points by virtue of two wins and a runner-up showing, won a thrilling mile run with a time of 4:16.02. The top four finishers were separated by just .17, and he edged runner-up teammate Ryan Tilottaby .10.
Tilotta (14:45.74) then used an incredible kick in the 5000m to take the title in front of Blomberg (14:45.80). Just .07 separated the top three positions in that race. Tilotta finished the meet with 26 points thanks to a victory and two second-place showings.
"It's amazing," Blomberg said. "I couldn't dream of getting 28 points. It's great to get all those points and help the team. I couldn't make it better."
As expected, Clayton Vaughn won the 60-meter final with a clocking of 6.66. It was Vaughn's third straight 60m league championship, with each occurring in a different conference (Southland in 2012, Western Athletic in 2013 and Sun Belt in 2014). He also placed third in the 200 meters (21.32).
Philip Critelli also was a league winner, as he notched a victory in the 800 meters with a clocking of 1:54.67.
The men fared very well in the field events too. Omar Barnes won the triple jump with a leap of 15.03 meters (49-03.75), a mark that narrowly missed the school's all-time top five list. In addition, Roland Saleswas the runner up in the high jump. His clearance of 7 feet, 1 inch equaled the school record.
On the women's side, the team finished sixth with 69.5 points. The women had a pair of conference individual champions to highlight Tuesday's competition.
Freshman Tamerah Gorham burst onto the scene by becoming the conference champion in the 800 meters (2:09.24). She edged teammate Ashly Wright (2:09.31) for the crown. Gorham's clocking was the fastest in Sun Belt Championship history.
In addition, Hannah Nilsson ran the third-fastest indoor mile time (4:54.33) in school history en route to a conference title.
Men's Team Scores
1. UT Arlington - 185 pts
Women's Team Scores
1. WKU - 169 pts