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2017 Sun Belt Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships
Sunday, May 14 Maverick Stadium Arlington, Texas
Jody Stewart, Texas State, Head Coach, Women's Champions
"We had an average day, to be honest. We had a lot of hiccups. We looked to score more points in certain areas that we didn't. I told the ladies that in any championship challenges are going to happen. What makes the story beautiful is to persevere. They did a great job, even with the challenges, in finding a way to persevere and be successful today. (Winning) is a great feeling. To me, it is all about those seniors. For them in their last hurrah. Going out the way they deserve. I'm proud of our young ladies. I'm also proud of our men and the way they competed. We have a very young men's team. It was a very good weekend."
John Sauerhage, UTA, Head Coach, Men's Champions
"When you are hosting a meet and you have a chance to win it makes it stressful. With some of the adversity we had to deal with this year, even though the scores didn't indicate it was close it was. It was very close. It could have turned on a dime. These are very good teams. Texas State has a great team. We just did everything we needed to do to win the meet. We are just happy and looking forward to more good stuff. The thing we were doing before we got to the finals on Sunday is that we were getting all the battles fought and the points we needed. Our strength this year is, obviously, the distance runners. We finished third in the NCAA regional meeting in cross country. You have to be able to take advantage of that. That 5K was an exclamation point. We expected that to happen, but knew it was going to be hard. (The Triple Crown means) we are the best men's track program in the conference. That's what it means. It is hard to get. We may never do it again. But, we are happy. We have a lot of respect for the league. We are proud of ourselves and we are looking forward to the NCAA meet. (on the women's side) We had some devastating injuries. We had a couple athletes who might have brought us 30 more points. For them to get up off the canvas shorthanded and have the kind of meet they had speaks a lot to the kind of people we have on our team. We had some senior leadership. A lot of people came through. To get second indoor and third outdoors was a good year. We qualified a lot of athletes for the NCAA meet so we are happy."
Tamerah Gorham (anchor leg), UTA, Women's 4x400-meter relay
"Our main goal was to come in first, especially since it is on our home track. That is a big thing for us. When we saw the result, we were excited. Everybody needed to go out as hard as they could since this is the last race. Nobody gave up. It felt amazing to earn the win."
Michael Guerrero, UTA, Men's 5,000-meters
"It feels really good. (Winning two Sun Belt titles) feels awesome considering I lost both my races indoors. I was out-kicked at the line in both cases indoors. The feeling you get in being out-kicked at the line is enough motivation to help push that extra. I tried to run everybody in the ground. I could not have done it without my teammate Craig (Lautenslager). We talked before the race and I asked him if he wanted me to lead or swap out every other lap. He said no, just hang on and we'll get through this together. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have been able to do that. The way I look at it, by the time you get to the 5K in the meet everybody has already run a race. I believe the 5K is not about fitness. It is about who can recover quicker from their races. I've always had really good recovery strength. (UTA going 1-2-3 in the race) That is awesome. Seeing the heart everybody left on the track. Not just in distance. Field events, hurdles, springs, everybody. We are all one big family. It is easy to give up on yourself. It is really hard to give up on family."
Tristin Van Ord, Appalachian State, Women's 5,000-meters
"It feels awesome (to win back-to-back championships). I went in very confident. I didn't go in knowing I would win this, especially with the two Coastal (Carolina) girls in the race. I knew they would really challenge me. Annie (Bothma) had back issues and Kyla (Van Graan) was having a rough day. It felt really good to feel strong the whole time and know that I was in the lead and feeling good. My body felt good. I just had to keep telling myself I was good enough to win in. When you get doubts in your head it can spiral. Once I felt those thoughts creeping in, I told myself I felt great and was going to win this. You have to keep telling yourself that. It feels good (to break my own record). Sometimes you feel like you aren't getting better. Having a race that is improved from your last one assures yourself that you are doing okay."
Jaylen Bacon, Arkansas State, Men's 200-Meters
"Today has been a really good day. We have been practicing the last two weeks for this. To come back and do what we practiced, a lot of time it is hard to put what you practice into a meet. When you do it, it is a really great feeling. Mentally, you just have to be ready to run. You have to take them on race at a time and try to PR. You can't do one without the other. (Plan between races) A lot of cooling down and relaxing, especially after you have a PR. (Earning Sun Belt records) feels really good. I put a lot of hard work into it and it is starting to pay off. I am nowhere near finished. It feels good to know where I am right now."
Tramesha Hardy, Texas State, Women's 200-Meters
"(Winning the 100 & 200 meters) I am just happy I was able to win gold for my team. (On recovery) I do my cool down, get treatment, do some drills and focus on my next race. That's how it has been since indoor conference. I just forget about everything else and focus on my race."
Elliot Graves, Appalachian State, Men's 400-Meter Hurdles
"(Winning) feels great, but it hasn't really sunk in. This is a crazy competition. Everybody is on a whole other level. Next season, everything starts all over. It isn't about what I used to do on the track. It is all about what I do at that moment."
Hesmari Coetzee, Coastal Carolina, Women's 400-Meter Hurdles
"It feels great (to be a Sun Belt champion). I never expected this. I actually started at Coastal in January, so I never thought of this. I thank God for this. I couldn't have done it without him. Obviously you have to have faith. I completely trust the Lord. That is the main thing. If you work hard in practice, you have nothing to worry about. (Prior to her next race) You have to do a cool down, stretch, foam roll, stay off our feet and go out and enjoy (the competition). You obviously represent the whole team and you run as a team."
Erik Martinsson, UTA, Men's 800-meters
Dionte Heath, Louisiana, Men's High Jump
"All thanks to the man above. It was an amazing performance. I spent a lot of time in practice. A lot of time perfecting my craft with my coaches. It was just a lot of hours and has been a long time coming. (Setting a PR) feels like all my hard work has paid off. I feel like I am on top of the world right now, honestly. I need to get back to practice, become more consistent and do it again in two weeks at the regional meet. I'm trying to make it to Oregon, make it to the big one."
Tamerah Gorham, UTA, Women's 800-meters
"It feels amazing (to have won 3 Sun Belt 800-meter titles). That I have the ability to do that is amazing. I try to keep my mind focused on the right things. I try to stay calm, as hard as that is. (Coach Sauerhage) said I had two choices in how to run my race, to stay in the lead do what I can do. (Dasia Rolfe) is a 400 runner. This is probably her second time running (the 800). She dropped her time a lot. I know when I leave there is someone else who can take over."
Lincoln Warren, Texas State, Men's 400-meters
"I ran my race exactly how I was supposed to run it. I had a great start and finish. Management, recover and hydrating (is the key to multiple events in a day). It is all on me. I have to tell myself how to recover throughout the day. What I do, I do for the team. We are all one. We are all trying to win the championship as a team. I love these guys to the bottom of my heart."
Brenden Wallace, UTA, Men's 400-meters
"It wasn't a personal best but I'm consistent so I'll take it. It feels good (to contribute to the team score). Last year, I got fourth. To be able to get a medal is nice. This is my first time for an open event on the podium. I didn't hit the time I wanted to. I'll get ready to move forward for the 4x400. I need to cool down, stretch, get a message and be mentally prepared."
Anika Charles, Little Rock, Women's 400-meters
"(To win a Sun Belt title) is something special. I've been wanting this since indoor, where I lost. Coming out there and getting it is a special feeling. I've been practicing, have been dedicated and worked hard. When you work hard, you can do good things. Today was a good day for me. My team supports me 100. Even thought I don't like the 400 and it isn't my best race, they support me. I'm very grateful for that."
Emeka Nwangwu, UTA, Men's 110-meter hurdles
"It is a great feeling (to win back-to-back titles) honestly. I didn't imagine this would happen. Last year, I was sixth going in. This year I was first. So, it was almost expected. I'm just glad I pulled it out. I try to keep my same process regardless of the situation. Nothing changes. I just try to compete at a higher level. We had all three of our hurdlers in the final, so it is good that we all got points on the board in a big way."
Shemiah Brooks, Arkansas State, Women's 100-meter hurdles
"All I can say is thank you God. I was really stressed this entire day. I knew I had a lot on my plate. Trust in God really got me through it. I got a lot of rest and am taking it event-by-event. That's the key. I have qualified for regionals and am very happy. It feels great to help my team. I told the ladies (on the team) to take it event-by-event and have fun with it."
Craig Lautenslager, UTA, Men's 1,500-meters
"I thought (my performance) was alright. It was kind of tough with the wind this afternoon. So, that was a bit of a factor. But, ultimately the winner of the first heat ran pretty well so there wasn't a lot of room for error. Last year at this meet the winner in the top heat only won by about a tenth of a second over the 'B' heat. I had the best time in the field so I decided to go out there at take it when it slowed down. I never looked back and ran as hard as I could. (Preparing for the 5,000-meters later today). I'm going to go back, get some fluids in my body and rest up as much as possible. Then, I'll just rely on my training and fitness to get me through. I've never run a race two hours after the other one. I think it will be a good test of me and hopefully help lead UTA to a triple crown victory."
Aynslee Van Graan, Coastal Carolina, Women's 1,500-meters
"It feels good (to be the champion). It hasn't sunk in yet, but it feels good. I always like to root for the underdogs and that is how (Coastal Carolina) came in. I think, we did a good job of showing everyone we belong here. We have something to bring to the table."
Phillip Green (Anchor leg), Texas State, Men's 4x100-meter relay
"I was thinking about getting the baton and getting it around. One of my teammates, Cody, got injured so shoutout to him. I was thinking of finishing the race strong and did it. (On not practicing together much prior to the race) It is different. You can't think about it too much or you get off (your rhythm). You have to focus and worry about your leg. We are ecstatic, very hyped."
Michael McGruder, Jr. (Anchor leg), Little Rock, Men's 4x100-meter relay
"Going into the last leg was pretty exciting. Seeing Phil from Texas State running in front of me. I just tried my best to go get him. Word can't explain how I feel right now. This was a great confidence booster since that (40.49) was our school record. That is giving our whole team a confidence boost. We switched out our third leg and that was a factor in our performance today."
Karissa Lunn (Anchor leg), Coastal Carolina, Women's 4x100-meter relay
"I took off a little early, but got the baton and kept on moving. All of us have chemistry. We practice hard every day. We came together and got our 4x100 (title) finally. We came to eat. That's all that matters."
Chassity Love (Anchor leg), UTA, Women's 4x100-meter relay
"We had the best handoffs we had all season. I love (the team aspect of the relay). If you mess up, it is on you. We have a few other girls who can make up ground, which is what helps us have such a good team."
Kaitlyn Beans, South Alabama, Women's Triple Jump
"It feels really good, especially since this is my second one. This is back-to-back for me. I feel good about being able to close out my senior year and just take home the win for my team. (Contributing to the team performance) feels amazing. This sport is one that is individual, but it is also a team sport. Being able to do well for yourself and to contribute to the team is an even better feeling."
Zach Douglas, Troy, Men's Discus
"I was pretty happy with my performance. You are always happy when you win. I'll keep going on to regionals and, hopefully, nationals. (Coming back after finishing 3rd last year) feels amazing. I need to get back to the grind the next two weeks, head to Kentucky and get ready to go."
Sean Collins, South Alabama, Men's Pole Vault
"I thought it was a decent performance. I would like to have done better, to have gotten closer to my PR. I PR'd in this meet last year. It feels good (to be back-to-back champion). I like consistency, so that means I'm being consistent at the top in the Sun Belt. That is incredible and its is hard. We have a good field of pole vaulters, I'd say one of the top in the nation. (Coming back from a dislocated ankle suffered in last year's Sun Belt Championships) It is really relieving. I had a lot of time off to try to recover. To come back and perform well is relieving. You have to forget it. I just tried to put it out of my mind, not to scare myself that I could be in the same situation. I worked hard and tried to just be safe and consistent."
Ricky Theyard, Louisiana, Men's Triple Jump
"I had it all mind all along that I wanted to win. Yesterday, I promised the team I would get 10 points. I started out well. My first jump was pretty good, but I fouled. I was trying to get a safe jump to make sure I was into the finals and I did that. In the finals, it was on. I knew I had to jump. There was a guy from Texas State who jumped pretty well and I knew I had to catch him. That's what I did on my last jump. I was struggling at first. Coach told me I needed to just forget about (the foul jump) and have short term memory. You can't think about that jump, so that's what I had to do. It is my senior year, my last outdoor conference championship. It is amazing. It is a blessing and I am going to embrace the moment for my first conference championship."
Calea Carr, Arkansas State, Women's Discus
"I felt terrible this morning. I was late to the track. I missed the bus to get here. It was a rough start. But, I felt really great when I was in the ring and that is all that mattered. It was pretty stressful. I felt more on balance with myself. I did what I was supposed to do. I followed instructions and had a nice finish and stayed in the ring. It feels great to be on the medal stand."
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